Claire Mitchell –
THE National Basketball Federation of TT (NBFTT) has been suspended for six months by the TT Olympic Committee (TTOC) for acting unconstitutionally in suspending members Keith Clement and Ikenna Joseph and failing to meet with the TTOC to discuss differences within the local basketball federation.
A letter sent by the president of the TTOC Brian Lewis to the president of the NBFTT Claire Mitchell, dated January 4, said, “We…formally advise that a decision has been taken by the TTOC’s executive to immediately suspend the NBFTT from participating in any approved/sanctioned activities of the TTOC.
“On Wednesday, May 12, 2021, the duly constituted Arbitral Tribunal (Tribunal) of the TTOC arbitrated a dispute involving Mr Keith Clement, Ikenna Joseph and the NBFTT.”
The Tribunal ruled that “the suspension of Mr Clement and Mr Joseph by the NBFTT board was unconstitutional and should be reversed.”
Clement told Newsday, “It is very unfortunate that basketball had to suffer this fate. We have a constitution and a regulation and we need to follow it, there is no exception.”
Discussing why they were suspended, Clement said, “We are accused of going to the media with some financial irregularities of the organization and that was not true at all. They (NBFTT) never presented anything to us. We were never given any documentation saying we are charged with X, Y and Z (or) we violated this rule or that. That was never done…up to now we do not know why we were suspended in the first place.”
Dave Williams, one of the lawyers who represent the TTOC, said Clement and Joseph “would have had an issue, a dispute with certain decisions taken against them by the federation.”
The TTOC letter said, “Though the board of the NBFTT felt that the perceived actions of Mr Joseph and Mr Clement may have warranted disciplinary action, it did not have the right to take such action. The process stipulated in the NBFTT constitution should have been followed.”
The TTOC is also suggesting that the NBFTT make changes to the constitution.
Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis. File photo/Sureash Cholai
“The NBFTT constitution should be revised to ensure that the language and text support the concept of due process. In order to adhere to the principles of natural justice, it is important that NBFTT follows its constitution and procedures.
“Even if reference is made to the FIBA’s Code of Conduct there should be a clear Code of Conduct governing all conduct at the local level as well as the penalties for non-adherence.”
The TTOC said disputes should be resolved indoors. “Persons who have grievances with the national body should not resort to public displays of disagreement as this adversely affects the image and operations of the national body. No party wins in that scenario.”
“Notwithstanding this order/judgment of the Tribunal, to date, the NBFTT has failed to comply.”
The TTOC’s constitution provides a mechanism for treating with National Sporting Organisations, which fail or otherwise refuse to abide by an Order issued by a properly constituted body of the TTOC.
Clause 13 (I) of the TTOC’s constitution states, “When a member has failed to fulfil his/her or its duties, has infringed the Olympic charter, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) code of ethics and/or this constitution or has not respected or implemented the decisions or resolutions of the organs of the IOC, he/she or it may be subject to the following graduated measures and sanctions (depending on the gravity of the facts and the level of damage or infringement.”
A warning is the first step, followed by suspension and then expulsion.
Williams confirmed that the local Olympic committee has repeatedly contacted the NBFTT to meet and discuss the matter.
This is in keeping with Section 13 (II) of the TTOC’s constitution which states the “decision to pronounce a warning or a suspension is made by the executive committee after having given an opportunity to the member concerned to be heard.”
The TTOC believes the board of the NBFTT has ignored this process. “The TTOC has put a process in place to arbitrate disputes involving NSOs and their members and it is expected that decisions emanating therefrom should be respected.”
The local basketball federation did not follow the proper steps.
“The NBFTT has blatantly disrespected this process and by its action, this amounts to contempt. Clause II (iii) of TTOC’s constitution states that members are required to respect and ensure the implementation of the decisions and resolutions made by the Committee. NBFTT by its continued recalcitrance, in the unanimous opinion of the executive members of the TTOC, has infringed that said provision.
Giving details of the suspension, the TTOC said, “Accordingly, it is the unanimous decision of the executive members of the TTOC to suspend the NBFTT for six months with effect from January 4, 2022, to July 4, 2022. NBFTT would not be required to participate in any authorized sporting event of the TTOC either locally, regionally or internationally.”
The NBFTT suspension ends weeks before a TT men’s 3×3 basketball team are expected to compete at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England. The Commonwealth Games will be held from July 28-August 8.
Mitchell said she would give a response, but up to press time on Tuesday it was not received.