By Brandon Speck
Retired Ingomar coach Norris Ashley’s boys and girls teams won nine MHSAA state basketball championships. He says if the allegations of the protection of star players at the state tournament are true, it may as well be called fixing games.
“You can slice it and dice it and put pepper and salt on it. But it still tastes the same. That’s what it is,” Ashley said. “I’m kind of on the outside and don’t hear all of it. It’s something that needs to be brought out. These kids are living the dream. Then they’re told that you’ve got to protect certain players? To me, it’s a capital offense, nearly.”
Though proving officials changed the way they call a game is difficult – the referees involved in the incidents say they in no way altered their calls – Ashley said you can’t help but wonder about your team’s own games in the tournament.
“I don’t know. I wasn’t in the officials’ dressing room. But now it makes me wonder,” he said. “They might have protected some of my players or some on the other team. I don’t know. It has created … now I’m wondering state tournaments ago, was that fixed?
“This creates a dark cloud. Did the correct team win or the team that was chosen in an office in Jackson win? That’s rotten.”