Chicago's Jackie Robinson West Little League team may leave the Little League International and join another baseball league after a controversy surrounding alleged residency violations left the team stripped of its championship title this year.
The team’s attorney announced the move Wednesday, saying the 300 to 400 youth players and 90 to 100 parent volunteers will explore the possibility of joining the Cal Ripken- Babe Ruth League. The new league offers similar services as Little League International.
“JRW parents and coaches feel strongly that Little League International inappropriately treated JRW children and parent volunteers, especially when Little League intentionally decided to announce the proposed change regarding the championship title to their corporate partner, ESPN, before speaking with JRW parents, coaches and children,” the team said in a statement. “This insensitive act by Little League International is a critical factor affecting JRW’s decision to explore other opportunities.”
Earlier this year, Little League spokesman Brian McClintock announced the news of the vacated title, saying an investigation revealed that Coach Darold Butler and Illinois District 4 Administrator Michael Kelly knowingly violated rules by using a falsified boundary map for their 2014 tournament and used players who didn't qualify because they lived outside the team's actual boundaries.
The team’s attorney, Victor Henderson, said the players, parents and the team’s leaders were unaware of the league’s decision until they saw it in the media.
"Little League International received Jackie Robinson West Little League’s charter application in early December," Little League said in a statemwnt Wednesday. "We have not had further communication with them regarding the 2015 season."