Curt Hopf’s family seeks injunction from courtDecember 6, 2019
By GORDON ENGELHARDT
Evansville Courier & Press
WASHINGTON — The parents of a standout Southwestern Indiana high school basketball player have asked the courts for an injunction in their quest to restore their son’s eligibility at Barr-Reeve High School this season.
Kevin and Angie Hopf of Cannelburg, the parents of Curt Hopf, are suing the Department of Education’s Case Review Panel and the Indiana High School Athletic Association.
The Hopfs want a “temporary restraining order, preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, a judicial review of the decision of the Case Review Panel and declaratory judgment” on behalf of Curt Hopf, who was ruled ineligible to play for Barr-Reeve this season after transferring from Forest Park High School in Ferdinand.
In November, an Indiana Department of Education Case Review Panel, in a 7-0 vote, denied a request from Hopf and his family that the 6-foot-7 forward be allowed to play this winter. While the Hopf family said the move was because their son was bullied and harassed at Forest Park, the Case Review Panel decided that there was “compelling” evidence that Hopf transferred for athletic reasons.
Hopf has drawn interest from Indiana, Purdue and the University of Evansville, among others. He is the younger brother of Clint Hopf, a 2007 Indiana All-Star who played at UE and is considered the No. 12 player in the state’s Class of 2021 by the IndyStar.
It was the third denial of Hopf’s eligibility, following two from the IHSAA earlier this year.
In the complaint, filed Wednesday in Daviess County Circuit Court, the Hopfs said that despite the success Curt Hopf found on the basketball court while playing for Forest Park, he was a victim of bullying and harassment by a Forest Park assistant coach as well as some teammates and other students.
The Hopfs said Curt was called a “bitch” and a “snitch,” among other names, and was “taunted on a regular basis, including for his religious beliefs when he would pray before meals.” Hopf was also made fun of for his facial features, the complaint claims, and that a member of the Forest Park basketball coaching staff called him “soft” so often that people around the school “started referring to him negatively as the ‘teddy bear.’”
Hopf was also humiliated and ridiculed on social media, the family asserts in the complaint, and the treatment was worse after the teen reported it to school officials. The family claims that Curt Hopf learned “that one of the bullies was told by a Forest Park official that it was Curt who reported the bullying.”
After that, the teen was referred to by others as a “snitch,” a “rat” and a “traitor.”
According to the complaint, Forest Park’s athletics director said during one of the hearings that he didn’t find what happened to Hopf to be an instance of bullying and that “kids are kids, you hear all kinds of stuff.”
The family said in the court filing that a psychiatric social worker had evaluated Hopf and concluded “that Curt was the victim of bullying, was demoralized and torn down as a person” because of his treatment at Forest Park.
The complaint claims that both Curt and his mother reported the behavior to the school officials, but that “Forest Park officials converted her concerns about the negative environment ... into complaints about athletics.”
Attorneys Michael Jasaitis and Jill Doggett, on behalf of the Hopf family, released the following statement on Wednesday:
“The Hopf family has filed a court action challenging the decision which has rendered Curt athletically ineligible for the duration of his junior year. In the meantime, Curt will continue to conduct himself as a respectful, positive and supportive member of the Barr-Reeve community.”
Barr-Reeve Community Schools attorney Jeffrey Norris said he had “no comment at this time” on Wednesday afternoon. IHSAA spokesman Jason Wille said “we will not comment on transfer cases.”
In its hearing with the Department of Education’s Case Review Panel, a Forest Park official testified that Angie Hopf demanded her son play the point guard position in order to “give him more exposure to Division I college teams.”
In July 2018, Forest Park’s head basketball coaching position became available and Angie Hopf questioned why a certain coach, who was not named in the panel’s document, was not given a second interview. She openly questioned the current coaching staff’s abilities. According to the document, Angie Hopf told a Forest Park official they needed to hire a new coaching staff or the family would seek a transfer.
Additionally, Hopf’s mother asked if the school would be hiring a new coaching staff within the next two years.
Angie Hopf denied making these statements at the Review Committee Hearing.
The family attorney argues that Curt Hopf “has sustained and will continue to sustain irreparable damage and harm in that he miss participating in athletics for his junior year of high school” and that he is “being recruited to play collegiately and his inability to compete during his junior year is impairing his high school athletic career and potential for college scholarships.”
Both Forest Park and Barr-Reeve recommended to the IHSAA that Hopf have no eligibility.
Hopf averaged 16.2 points and 8.6 rebounds for Forest Park, which finished 15-10 under first-year coach David Welp last season. Hopf helped lead Forest Park to the Class 2A state finals and a 25-5 record as a freshman under former coach Jeff Litherland.
Barr-Reeve lost 60-43 to Fort Wayne Blackhawk in the Class A championship game last March.
Hopf will be eligible at Barr-Reeve on Aug. 1, 2020 — a year after he enrolled at the school, Wille told the Courier & Press previously.
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