In the end, the handwritten lease on a District home produced by Nico Robinson's father did no good.
The DC State Athletic Association's appeals panel shot down Woodrow Wilson Senior High School's attempt to prove that Robinson, who played on the school's football team, was a D.C. resident, on Tuesday. And the panel shot down Wilson's hope of competing Thursday in the Turkey Bowl, the District's championship high school football game. The decision was unanimous.
"They're mad, they're sad, they don't understand," Wilson Principal Peter Cahall said of the team. "I think it's more of a disappointment to themselves and their families. I don't think they're even thinking about it in terms of the [college] recruiters who would've seen them play."
DC Public Schools announced Sunday that Wilson was disqualified from the Turkey Bowl because officials had discovered that a player on the team lived in Maryland and had committed residency fraud by not paying out-of-state tuition to the school system. After reviewing tapes, Wilson administrators and coaches determined that Robinson had played in two league games.
Anacostia Senior High School, which Wilson defeated in the semifinals, will face off against Dunbar Senior High School in the schools' biggest athletic competition of the year.
"While DCPS regrets any confusion or frustration this may cause, it is important to ensure the integrity and fairness of the game," said Melissa Salmanowitz, a school system spokeswoman.
Cahall said he believed Robinson lived with his father and grandmother in the District, even though his mother and father's names were on a lease in Prince George's County.
At the appeals panel, Robinson's father even produced a District lease, but the handwritten document didn't convince officials.
Prince George's police had documented Robinson leaving his home in Greenbelt, walking to the Metro, traveling to Tenleytown and walking to Wilson to attend school over the course of a week. Robinson's identification card bears a Maryland address, as do both his parents' driver's licenses.
The investigation into Robinson's residency began when he was arrested in connection with two armed robberies and one attempted robbery of University of Maryland students in College Park.
The District's Office of the State Superintendent of Education said in May that it was investigating 276 students for possible residency fraud, with more cases referred to the city's attorney general.
The D.C. Council began cracking down on the fraud last fall, passing legislation in January that increased fines for violating the rules from $500 to $2,000.