Parents of onetime Little League darlings Jackie Robinson West of Chicago have filed a lawsuit against ESPN, on-air personality Stephen A. Smith, Little League International and opposing coach Chris Janes, who reportedly notified the league that the West team was using ineligible players.
In 2014, the South Side-area team captivated the nation when they won a national championship, only to be stripped months later when Janes claimed that West coaches adjusted boundary maps to include players who wouldn’t have been eligible to play.
According to the lawsuit, viewed by the Chicago Tribune, the parents allege that the “Little League organization that hosts the annual World Series ‘concealed the ineligibility of the JRW team members in order to reap the benefits of notoriety and media attention.’ “
The lawsuit filed by parents of Jackie Robinson West alleges that although their former coach Darold Butler submitted the necessary paperwork to Little League International, officials either ignored or chose not to mention the potential boundary issues so that the league could profit from the popularity of Jackie Robinson West, Yahoo! Sports reports.
Even after officials were informed of ineligible players on the Jackie Robinson West team, the team was still allowed to finish its season before league President Bill Haley was informed. “Despite its findings, Little League still arranged the team’s visit to the White House and inclusion in the 2014 World Series in San Francisco,” according to Yahoo! Sports.
Smith, the colorful commentator known for his brash remarks, is being sued for defamation after making comments on air suggesting that Butler knowingly falsified documents for his own personal gain.
Whistleblower Janes is also named in the lawsuit, which he reportedly finds “laughable,” according to DNAinfo. The lawsuit can be read at DNAinfo.