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NMAA looks into Pecos basketball player’s living arrangement with assistant coach

Copyright © 2017 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE — The New Mexico Activities Association is investigating the Pecos boys basketball team after a newspaper published a story last week about a player who has been living with an assistant coach for over three years.

The article didn’t say it, but the living arrangement appears to be a violation of NMAA bylaws. The investigation might affect the Panthers’ dominant run to a state championship last season.

NMAA Associate Director Dusty Young confirmed Monday that the association was investigating the team after the Santa Fe New Mexican published a story Thanksgiving Day about star player Carlos Cordova living with assistant coach Dominick Baca the past three years.

The New Mexican reported that Cordova, now entering his senior season, offered to let Baca stay in Cordova’s single-wide trailer on the outskirts of Pecos in 2014. Cordova’s grandfather, who raised Cordova, died of cancer in June 2014, and Baca was looking for a place to live in Pecos after accepting the assistant coach job, the newspaper reported. They have moved three times since then and now live in a four-bedroom home.

Living with a coach could make Cordova ineligible for the upcoming basketball season and impact team wins in which Cordova played over the past three seasons, according to NMAA bylaws.

The NMAA handbook says an athlete may face ineligibility for the school year if the player is “living with a coach, principal, teacher, or school official without legal guardianship.”

Young couldn’t say Monday what kind of sanctions the program might face. “I wouldn’t be able to say anything other than we’re investigating the matter,” Young said.

Pecos head coach Ira Harge Jr. wouldn’t say Monday if he was aware of the living arrangement violating NMAA bylaws.

“Our district is cooperating with the NMAA,” Harge said. “We’re not trying to be evasive. We hope this will be resolved soon.”

The New Mexican article implies they lived together during last year’s 29-1 run in which the Panthers beat Santa Rosa 60-49 in the 3A championship game, where Cordova recorded 16 points. Pecos opens the season against Grants Thursday at the Al Armendariz Tournament in Santa Fe.