Forest Hills High School men's basketball coach Ben Chobhaphand was suspended Monday for the remainder of the season and all of next season due to a recruiting violation, the Department of Education has announced.
According to a Public Schools Athletic League rule, "no school, through any of its officers or by any other means shall directly or indirectly induce any student to sever connections with his/her school or to transfer schools for athletic purposes."
In a brief statement, the Department of Education announced the suspension without offering any details on the investigation.
"An investigation substantiated allegations that two coaches recruited students in violation of PSAL regulations. Ben Chobhaphand, basketball coach at Forest Hills High School, and Steve Mandl, baseball coach at George Washington High School Campus, are being suspended from their coaching duties for one year for these violations," Department of Education spokeswoman Margie Feinberg wrote.
According to a published report, Chobhaphand allegedly tried to recruit a player from Francis Lewis High School, who later ended up at Queens High School For Teaching.
Chobhaphand has been silent in the wake of the suspension.
"I can't talk to the media right now, I have no comment," Chobhaphand said when reached on his cell phone.
One of Chobhaphand's coaching contemporaries says that he is maintaining that he has done nothing wrong.
"He says he's innocent," said Benjamin Cardozo High School boys basketball coach Ronald Naclerio, who spoke with him on the phone after hearing about the suspension.
Naclerio, whose team went undefeated during the regular season, explained that though coaches try to "cut corners" to make their team better, he said that some coaches just have to accept what they have.
"You've got to learn that you can't be good every single year," he said.
Naclerio has over 30 years of coaching experience, he said that what Chobhaphand was suspended for is strongly frowned upon in the city's coaching community.
"That’s the one 'no-no' of recruiting you don’t do," he said.
The suspension comes at an awkward time for the Rangers, as they get set for the PSAL playoffs. Forest Hills' first game won't be until March 1 because of a bye earned with their number eight seed.
So far, assistant coach Anthony Dulin is considered the most likely replacement to guide the Rangers through the city playoffs.