O’Brien: Curie’s Maurice Commander can’t play, his family wants to know why

Marist's Maurice Commander (3) dishes the ball away against Brother Rice. Worsom Robinson/ For the Sun-Times.

Curie opens the season tonight against Orr, but senior guard Maurice Commander won’t be on the floor and it is breaking his dad’s heart.

Commander transferred from Marist to Curie over the summer. Chicago Public Schools and the Illinois High School Association haven’t given a final ruling on Commander’s eligibility yet, so he can’t play in the game.

“I just feel like they are blackballing my son and it is personal,” Commander’s dad, Maurice Sr. said. “I’m trying to do it the right way. I think think it is personal with Marist and they are taking it out on my son for no reason. He shouldn’t be punished. I did the transfer the right way.”

Marist principal Larry Tucker says his school isn’t holding a grudge.

“That’s not who we are,” Tucker said. “We’ve had kids that have left and been eligible. I think the rules need to apply equally. I’m not exactly sure what the circumstances are. He’s a student at another school so I don’t know what else I can say. It’s absolutely not personal though.”

The Commanders say the move to Curie had nothing to do with basketball and everything to do with Maurice Sr.’s health problems. He has kidney disease.

“I’m a veteran and I’m disabled,” Commander Sr. said. “I worked for the Cook County Sheriff’s department. Our finances changed when we had to switch health insurance. I couldn’t afford my medical bills. I had to choose between my son’s education and living to see my son play. I made those sacrifices in the past for my son to go to Marist. But the financial situation piled up.”

The Commanders put aside their pride and submitted more than 40 pages of personal financial documents to the CPS.

“They said it wasn’t sufficient enough hardship, because we are making the same amount,” Commander said. “My income hasn’t changed but our bills have. And when we left Marist we struggled to pay them the bill so I could get my son’s transcripts.”

Commander went downtown to CPS headquarters on Thursday to get some answers. He didn’t want his son to miss the big game against Orr.

“I just wanted to talk to someone and I couldn’t get past the security guard,” Commander said. “They gave me the runaround. I turned in my paperwork, they waited until two days before the season started and then they blocked him. The season has started, the game is here and my son isn’t allowed to play.”

Commander is an excellent student, he has a 4.5 GPA and a scored a 29 on the ACT. He signed with Tennessee-Chattanooga earlier this month.

“I think it is a privilege to go to a Catholic school,” Commander said. “I did everything I could possibly do to put my son in a good situation. He’s an educated kid, we kept him off the streets, out of gangs. And now he hits a brick wall because a school is punishing him because he left the school.”

Commander said he understands that there are transfer rules, but said he’s done everything that’s been asked.

“My son should be allowed to participate and if they find something wrong, then they can sit him down,” Commander said. “I don’t think this is fair.”

Several basketball players left private schools for public schools this summer. The IHSA and CPS have investigated the transfers and so far most have been cleared to play. Marquise Walker, who transferred from St. Joseph to Curie, is playing in the game tonight, as is Chase Adams, who transferred from Marian Catholic to Orr.

The IHSA has not responded to a request for comment. The CPS says it is currently looking into the situation.

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  • DrMal

    Teachers can leave for a better opportunity, principals can so why should a coach handcuff a kid to him. Collect your stipend and coach the kids that want to play for you!

    • The Truth

      Marist has ZERO control over the eligibility of any transfer student. The author of this article would have figured this out in 5 minutes if he looked into it. He is more interested in selling papers than reporting the truth.

  • Ketoe

    All the blame here lies with the IHSA, Illinois high school sports governing body. Years and years of abuse has been allowed to happen and when things go afoul, the IHSA try to keep their hands clean. Someone in the AG office needs to investigate the IHSA and its members. This is insane.

    • Commander

      Especially when the principal of the school your leaving is on the IHSA Board

      • The Truth

        The board has nothing to do with with eligibility decisions. Actually the decision falls on the CPS if you look at the bylaws. Please go troll someone else.

  • The Truth

    What I want to know is how did he get an 18 and 19 on his ACT test before he left and then a 29 after transferring. Statistically speaking this is an impossible feat. Also, Marist has zero control over the eligibility of students that have transferred, this is up to the IHSA and CPS. Almost everything in this article is false and fake news.

    • Leegs1

      Stick with the word “false.” When you use the term, “fake news”, you discredit yourself. Just my opinion.

    • Coach

      Why is that do hard to believe? He score an 18 on his 1st test then and got help to prepare for it again and score over 20 on the ACT. That is not impossible. My little brother had a 3,4 GPA and score an 17 his 1st time taking it as a Jr. I help him prepare for it his Sr Year and he score a 24. He went on to college at TSU and graduate with B.S. in engineering. And also now has a master’s degree in engineering. So again why do you find that it so hard to believe that commander could not do the same? His GPA at Marist was over a 3.0. So it not like he stuggle with his grades.

      • The Truth

        An 18 to a 29 is a huge jump that is statistically impossible. Do some research and you might figure it out.

  • ccl1989

    all those catholic school kids that transfer into the public league shouldn’t be playing

  • bball fan

    moved to a cheater program (one of many in CPS ). and got caught. get over it

  • Mary Kolodziej

    Who cares, let the kid play. He sounds like a great kid that just wants to play a game he loves and get his education. My daughter went to Marist, it’s a great school. It was a struggle to pay that tuition payment every month. We did not feel the high schools around my neighborhood were safe enough for my daughter, otherwise we would have never sent her to Marist. If this family cannot afford Marist, then let them move on and wish them the best. What kind of Christian’s are you, trying to destroy this young man’s basketball career. I pray this gets resolved soon and he gets back in the game! Prayers to him and his family.

  • Mike O'Malley

    He put out a video about playing against better competition as his reasoning behind transfer.

  • Mike O'Malley

    he put out about transferring to play against better competition. They don’t seem to talking about it now.

  • RealityCheck

    Simple solution: Let EVERY kid get one free transfer in high school. Shouldn’t matter if it’s private to public or public to private.

  • RealityCheck

    Blame CPS not Marist. CPS has not been following the rules. They had people without authority making decisions on transfers.

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