NBFTT boss questions ‘non-compliance’ suspension by TTOC
President of the National Basketball Federation of Trinidad and Tobago (NBFTT) Claire Mitchell is questioning the legality of the move by the T&T Olympic Committee (TTOC) to suspend the NBFTT for non-compliance.
Yesterday, the TTOC suspended the NBFTT from participating in any TTOC sanctioned activities for a six-month period—effective from yesterday—following NBFTT’s reluctance to comply with a TTOC Arbitral Tribunal ruling in May last year, involving a dispute between the Federation and Keith Clement and Ikenna Joseph.
The Tribunal ruled that the NBFTT’s suspension of Clement and Joseph by the NBFTT Board was unconstitutional and should be reversed.
However, responding to the news of the suspension, Mitchell questioned the legality of the measure, noting the NBFTT had informed the TTOC of its compliance with the ruling via a letter last year.
“We are uncertain about the legality of the suspension, despite complying with recommendations made by TTOC and informing them of compliance,” Mitchell told the Express yesterday. She noted that the NBFTT would have written the TTOC on July 23, 2021, and that the TTOC Secretary General acknowledged receipt on July 25, 2021.
Mitchell said the suspension of the two members were reversed and instead a motion was moved to request the immediate resignation of both persons in line with Article 10.3 of the NBFTT Constitution.
“We are hopeful that clarity will be offered to the situation swiftly to avoid the players being robbed of opportunities to represent their country due to administrative misconceptions,” Mitchell added.
TTOC legal adviser Dave Williams confirmed the suspension of the NBFTT noting that, “the horse has already bolted. What the Federation failed to do was to comply with an order issued by the Arbitral Tribunal. If they had a problem with the decision, then there is a process under the TTOC’s Constitution which they ought to have invoked.”
He said the TTOC is sending a clear message that rules cannot be disregarded without repercussions.
“What the TTOC has to be mindful of is that it cannot send an incoherent message to the sporting community that it has a system in place to deal with disputes involving members and their sporting organisations and when decisions are rendered, the sporting organisation or even the members do not comply with the decisions,” Williams explained.
Message must be sent
“At the end of the day the TTOC does not want to adversely affect junior aspiring basketball players but a message must be sent to sporting organisations that they cannot simply do what they want, whenever disputes have been arbitrated upon and a decision is averse to them,” he continued.
Asked what can be done to salvage the situation and prevent it from escalating further, Williams said: “At the end of the day, the Constitution is silent in terms of what can happen with a view to let’s say revoking or amending the situation. Let us all come together and see what can be done at the end of the day in the interest of all concerned.”
The Tribunal also recommended that the NBFTT Constitution should be revised to ensure that the language and text support the concept of due process and in order to adhere to the principles of natural justice it is important that the NBFTT follows its Constitution and procedures.
Suspension is the second level of action provided for by the TTOC’s Constitution for treating with National Sporting Organisations (NSOs), which fail or otherwise refuse to abide by an order issued by a properly constituted body of the TTOC.
Despite the Tribunal’s ruling coming in May last year, the TTOC noted that the NBFTT has failed to comply and that the Federation’s non-compliance has resulted in the suspension. The first level was a warning and the final graduated measure is expulsion.
Ample opportunities to be heard
“The TTOC has sought through various correspondence to meet with representatives of the NBFTT in keeping with Section 13 (II) of the TTOC’s Constitution... “The TTOC has given the NBFTT ample opportunities to be heard, however, to date no one from that organisation has seen it necessary to attend such hearing,” the TTOC letter stated.
“The TTOC has put a process in place to arbitrate disputes involving NSOs and their members and it is expected that decisions emanating there from should be respected. The NBFTT has blatantly disrespected this process and by its action this amounts to contempt,” it continued.
“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. Accordingly, it is the unanimous decision of the Executive Members of the TTOC to suspend the NBFTT for six months,” the letter concluded.
Asked about the possible expulsion of the NBFTT, Williams said “It can go so far.”
“Companies operate with rules and that is all the TTOC is doing. It is invoking its rules to ensure that its membership operate in a particular way, so that this is a demonstration or reflection of the rule of law, it is simple as that.”
As far as the consequences of the suspension, the TTOC letter stated that the NBFTT would not be required to participate in any authorised sporting event of the TTOC either locally, regionally or internationally. This could put T&T’s participation at the Commonwealth Games in jeopardy.
Mitchell confirmed that the sanctioned activities include Pan Am Games, Commonwealth Games and Olympics. However, it does not cover FIBA (International Basketball Federation) events like AmeriCup, Centrobasket and other FIBA tournaments.