MORGAN PARK — Morgan Park High School won the Class 3A state championship in boys basketball March 18, but the team does not yet have the rings to prove it.
In fact, school administrators don't expect to have the thousands of dollars necessary to buy the rings for the roughly 30 players, managers and coaches on the 2017 team, said Michael Berger, the Mustangs' athletic director.
"We don't have any money left from our basketball funds for the rings," Berger said Wednesday. He said most of this dedicated money was used when the team traveled to the championship game in Peoria as well as other away games.
Our #3AStateChamps Boys Basketball Team need your help!!! Please Read and Donate!!!#empehi #GoMustangs pic.twitter.com/6iC7RAYAiU— MorganPark Athletics (@EMPEHIAthletics) March 28, 2017
The Mustangs also won basketball titles in 2013 and 2014. In those years, Chicago Public Schools helped pay for the rings as well as the championship banners that now hang in the modest gym on the Far Southwest Side, said Berger, who added the school also used some of its funds for those items.
However, a series of budget cuts have erased most discretionary money at both the school and district level, Berger said.
So on Tuesday night, Berger typed a letter detailing the predicament and posted it on Twitter. The post said that those interested in helping out could send a check to the school for the Morgan Park Boys Basketball Program.
He included the address of the school — 1744 W. Prior Ave. — and asked that donations be sent to his attention. Funds can also be delivered in person to the school's business manager, Berger said.
He was told by CPS administrators to avoid online fundraising sites, such as GoFundMe, when requesting donations. And he said the Mustang's basketball coach Nick Irvin has vowed to reach out to his friends and fellow coaches to seek donations.
Berger said his Tweet has already brought in several donations, the biggest being $500 from a Fenwick parent. Morgan Park defeated Fenwick (69-67) in overtime for the state championship.
"He said he did it because he respected our program and how our young men acted," Berger said.