ALAMANCE COUNTY - Jonathan Kingsley, a former Eastern Alamance High School football player, is now in Baltimore; months after news broke of an investigation into the school’s athletics program.
In 2015, Aris Hines and Brandi Thomason of Mebane were charged with felony common law obstruction of justice and obtaining property by false pretense. The couple was charged in May of 2016 after the Sheriff’s Office investigated reports of fraudulent documents presented to the Alamance-Burlington School System. The documents were tied to a student athlete from Nigeria who attended Eastern-Alamance.
That student was Kingsley; now listed as a senior at St. Francis Academy, a private school in Baltimore. On the school’s football roster, the 18-year-old is listed as an outside linebacker, although he is not assigned a number.
The Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association provides procedures for student athletes attending their member schools; which includes St. Francis. Lee Dove, the Executive Director, said the schools set their own procedures for general admission.
“We just monitor the eligibility of athletes that come into the school,” Dove explained. “How he came to the attention of the coaches at St. Francis, I’m not really sure about that myself.”
The association is in the process of making sure they have all documents necessary to ensure Kingsley will be eligible to play for St. Francis.
Dove said, “We are trying to make sure his passport is updated and verified so that he can legally be in this country. I think it was expired from what we had seen.”
MIAA restrictions show an athlete must be under the age of 19 by September of an academic year, have not exceeded four years in a certain sport or be a graduate from a high school. The last step Dove said for Kingsley is proving he did not graduate from a school in Nigeria.
“It’s been a trying experience because the more I try to find out the more I was informed of and the more than I found out about what had happened with the school down there in North Carolina.”
Dove explained he talked with Eastern Alamance Coach John Kirby and members of the school district over the past couple of months. Dove said Kirby and others were very supportive of Kingsley.
“I know he’s been caught up with some unfortunate circumstances with some people who abused the system and abused him to some degree I think,” said Dove. “But, I also know there were falsified documents initially for him when he came to the attention down there in North Carolina and I didn’t want to go through that. I wanted to make sure everything was something that we could document.”
Investigators accused Hines and Thomason of illegally enrolling Kingsley into the school system, where he played basketball and football.
The Sheriff's Office said Kingsley could have been trafficked and provided with false visas, which ultimately cost him his eligibility.
The North Carolina High School Athletic Association stripped Eastern Alamance football and basketball teams of 28 wins altogether, and the school had to repay close to $19,000 in playoff game receipts.
Sheriff Terry Johnson said Kingsley lived with Hines and Thomason in Orange County and also in a house on Holt Street in Mebane with other minors. The Department of Social Services got involved and Kingsley was placed with another local family. Sheriff Johnson said the decision made Hines angry and revengeful.
"Mr. Hines waits until the football season is over and basketball season is over, calls the coach and threatens the coach, 'I'll destroy your career.'" said Sheriff Johnson. "From there, Mr. Hines goes down to North Carolina High School Athletic Association and says hey, 'I want to report that Eastern Alamance High School is using an illegal player' to get the coach back, not realizing it was going to backfire on him."
Randy Jones, a sheriff’s spokesperson said as of right now they are awaiting trial for Hines and Thomason. Jones said he was surprised to learn Kingsley was in Baltimore, but wished him the best.
“He seemed like a good kid to me,” said Jones over the phone.
Kirby declined an on-camera interview. The school principle thought it was best to continue to move forward; however, Kirby did say Kingsley is a great kid with a successful future. Kirby, who coached Kingsley, said he was contacted by St. Francis’s Athletic Director, Nick Myles and a coach in Florida to discuss the now-senior.
Myles was unable to be reached for comment. No word on who Kingsley is living with and how he ended up in Baltimore.
Dove said he think the process of verifying Kingsley’s eligibility is almost complete and hopes everything falls into place.
“I’m sure this young man is just chomping at the bit to get involved at the new school with these kids that he’s getting to know as future player. I hate to put a kid in the middle of these things but we’re just trying to do what we believe to make sure everything is legit.”