HOPKINS COUNTY, Ky. (3/7/14) — Although the director of the Hopkins County Central American Basketball Association program was jailed Wednesday on charges of alleged misuse of league funds, the status of a player the director removed from the league remains in limbo.
Cody Eastwood had been playing on the varsity division in the HCC-ABA until his father, Everett Eastwood, said he confronted the association's director about inconsistencies in money designated for uniform sponsorship.
After that, Cody was removed from the team by order of the director, according to Eastwood.
After Eastwood sought out Hopkins County Attorney Todd P'Pool, a Kentucky State Police investigation began and the HCC-ABA director, Mia Higens, was arrested March 5 for theft by unlawful taking under $500, which is a Class A Misdemeanor.
According to the arrest report, KSP Det. Lonnie Kavanaugh reported that he discovered that several expenditures inconsistent with youth basketball league were made from the league's checking account. Those expenditures included clothes, toys, gourmet food and diet pills. Kavanaugh's investigation is ongoing.
Meanwhile, Cody's team, a 12-member group of 12-13 year olds, were to go into the All-Star Tournament with only 11 players Friday, March 7 at Clay Elementary in Webster County. Now, that number could be 10, when one of the players withdrew from the team because Cody was allowed to practice with the team Thursday night.
Cody's coach, Lora Boyd, who is also a member of the newly-formed HCC-ABA board of directors, believes Cody should be allowed to play on the team.
“I believe Cody should be allowed to participate in the All-Stars Tournament,” said Boyd.
Eastwood was previously on the HCC-ABA board along with Higens, when there were only the two members on the board. Eastwood told SurfKY News that Higens brought on five new members in November and voted him out on a 5-1 vote in a board meeting that he was not notified about.
Boyd was the only to vote against removing Eastwood from the board, she said. Newly-appointed board members Nathan and Erica Rogers and Derek and Mindy Scarborough voted along with Higens to remove Eastwood from the board.
“(Higens) called me and said that I was off,” said Eastwood, who said Higens served as both league director and treasurer. “And, I still question the accountability of the funds.”
Eastwood said funds from game ticket sales and concessions as well as contributions have not been accounted for satisfactorily. He believes his questioning precipitated Higens' frustration at him and resulted in his son being removed from the team.
“Too many of the deposits were of even dollar amounts,” said Eastwood. “How many times do you take in an exact $300 for a night?”
There are two leagues of ABA programs in Hopkins County. They, along with other counties, comprise the state ABA. In this region, the state representative is Harley Heath of Henderson.
Heath told SurfKY News that he had been contacted by Higens, who told him that new directors would be handling the league in the future. Regarding Cody's participation in the All-Star games in the wake of Higens' arrest, he said that he had no jurisdiction over the individual leagues.
“Each county is autonomous,” said Heath.
He referred questions about Cody's participation in upcoming games to the new “directors.” However, Heath said he did not know the names of the new directors.
At this point, Eastwood said he doesn't want to rock the boat for Cody's team mates but believes his son has the right to play in the games.
After Thursday night's practice, he's unsure what to do.
“I really don't want to spoil things for the other players,” said Eastwood.
Boyd said Cody had been elected to his position and that his family had paid the required fees for this participation.
For tonight's game, Boyd said she could not get a $75 entry fee check from Higens, when she asked for it a few days ago. She said she and the players' parents would probably make up the money so the team can play.Read the Mia Higens, President of the Youth League arrest story here.
Rita Dukes Smith
SurfKY News Director
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