NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - The mother of the New Brunswick High School football player at the center of the school's four-game sanction urged the school board to fire athletic director Craig Lowery after her son was allowed to play without sitting out a state-mandated 30-day period following a transfer.
Monica Rivera's voice quivered with emotion at Tuesday night's meeting as she told the school board that Lowery had promised to try to get her son a waiver from the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association that would have allowed him to forgo the 30-day wait after transferring to New Brunswick High School in February.
Rivera said from February through July 16, she repeatedly emailed Lowery to check on the eligibility of her son, senior Jordan Lebron. She said she called Lowery 26 times and "never got anything but a voice mail and no call back."
Rivera said she sent Lowery one final email on Aug. 12 to make sure her son was eligible, but "I am still waiting to hear back."
The Zebras last week were forced to forfeit their season-opening four victories after they were deemed to have used an ineligible player by Greater Middlesex Conference president Jeff DiCocco, who is also the athletic director at Edison High School.
Rivera and two other residents told the board that Lowery should be fired.
"I'm here to tell you tonight to tell you I am not going to stand quiet, I want to not stand alone and to put you on notice that Craig Lowery needs to go," Rivera said. "He becomes the face of this - as he should - and not these children. And we do everything possible as a community and together as a school district to get these kids back what they deserve, including their integrity because it is very clear that Craig Lowery has no integrity. That's the only right answer."
The Zebras were off to their best start since 2015. They already had wins over Monroe, Dickinson (Jersey City) and Edison before their showdown with reigning North Jersey II Group V champion Piscataway. New Brunswick's 13-7 win over Piscataway ended the Chiefs' 17-game win streak and caused shakeups in rankings across the state.
Following a loss to North Brunswick, the Zebras found out that they were being sanctioned based on NJSIAA bylaws. They played hard in a 7-0 loss at Sayreville on Friday. Their official record sits at 0-6 entering Friday's game against East Brunswick.
According to NJSIAA bylaws, a transfer student-athlete must sit out the first 30 days of the season if there is no bona fide address change. Rivera said the family did not have a change of address and that would have necessitated the 30-day wait.
Three members of the New Brunswick High School football team, Ahyan Brown Miller, Macellus Blount and Jordan, told the board that the team is disheartened after having to forfeit their hard-earned victories.
Blount said that the team has had to "carry that stigma" around and that opponents have branded them "cheaters."
Brown Miller referenced Lowery when he said, "I just think me and my teammates put in too much work from freshman year till now, multiple hours in the heat and the rain and all other weather conditions to be stripped of something we worked hard for and every day we have to walk by and see the person who took it away from us."
When asked if Lowery would be fired, president Diana Solis said it is board policy not to discuss personnel matters.
Lowery did not reply to messages left at the school seeking comment. He was not at his usual spot on the New Brunswick sideline during last week's loss to Sayreville.