Jackie Robinson West stripped of Little League World Series title

CHICAGO, IL -- Jackie Robinson West has been stripped of their title in the 2014 Little League World Series. Las Vegas will now be handed the title.

The Jackie Robinson West baseball team that brought the city together this summer is accused of stacking the team with players from the suburbs.

"Jackie Robinson West Little League and Illinois District 4 Administrator knowingly violated Little League International Rules and Regulations by placing players on their team who did not qualify to play because they lived outside the team's boundaries," a Little League news release says.

Little League International found that Jackie Robinson West Little League used a falsified boundary map for their 2014 tournament, and that Jackie Robinson West Little League officials met with other leagues in Illinois District 4 to try to get the territory they wrongfully claimed was theirs for their 2014 tournament, the Little League release said.

JRW's Great Lakes Regional championship has also been stripped, the league says. And manager Darold Butler has been suspended, the league said. Illinois District 4 administrator, Michael Kelly, has also been removed from his position.

"For more than 75 years, Little League has been an organization where fair play is valued over the importance of wins and losses," said Mr. Stephen D. Keener, Little League International President and CEO. "This is a heartbreaking decision. What these players accomplished on the field and the memories and lessons they have learned during the Little League World Series tournament is something the kids can be proud of, but it is unfortunate that the actions of adults have led to this outcome."

Little League's news release says that officials within District 4, the district of teams that includes Jackie Robinson West, redrew boundaries in the district beginning in 2013, but never officially submitted the new boundaries to Little League's process of approval. Little League International also says Jackie Robinson West "knowingly expanded its boundaries to include territory that belonged to other leagues in the district without approval from the other leagues or the Little League International Charter Committee."

Keener said JRW officials and District 4 administrator Michael Kelley signed documents to make players eligible who should not have been. Little League World Series officials came to Chicago in January to investigate. A meeting was held in Pennsylvania on Tuesday to discuss the findings.

Little League International says at no point during the regular season or thereafter did any team from District 4 file a complaint about JRW's player eligibility.

"It wasn't until the meetings in January, 2015 that local league officials confirmed that they had direct knowledge of this rule violation, but never reported it to Little League International," the news release said.

Little League's release says no one reported any concerns with player eligibility until after the team won the U.S. championship. An official from a neighboring district outside District 4 filed a complaint with the Indianapolis Little League office in September, the month after the team won.

The red flag was first raised by Chris Janes, vice president of the Evergreen Park Athletic Association, another South Side league.

"We even went through public records, voter registration, vehicle registration. We pulled up everything to the point we were satisfied making the accusation," Janes said.

"Unfortunately, no allegations against Jackie Robinson West Little League were made until well after the tournament ended, contributing to the difficulty of resolving these many complex issues," Keener said.

The team Jackie Robinson West faced in the Little League World Series from Las Vegas will now take the title.

"If it is proven to be factual that they did fraudulently increase the boundaries to have some more children on their team, I think Little League needs to enforce its rules and take the championship away from them. I hate to say that for the children, but it's the only right thing to do," Kristi Black, Former president of Mountain Ridge Little League, said Tuesday.

ABC7 Eyewitness News reached out to Jackie Robinson West, but there has been no comment.

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