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Posted on Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 5:45 a.m.

Willow Run AD questioning eligibility of transfer, Michigan basketball recruit Jamal Poplar

By Kyle Austin

Willow Run High School athletic director Matt Seidl is questioning the eligibility status of one of the state’s top high school basketball players, after he transferred from Willow Run to River Rouge during the offseason.


Jamal Poplar. file

Junior forward Jamal Poplar, who averaged 11.8 and 6.2 rebounds for Willow Run as a sophomore, participated in his first game of the season Friday when River Rouge beat Willow Run, 81-27, after sitting out his team’s opener.

Willow Run athletic director Matt Seidl said Poplar should be subject to the MHSAA’s transfer rule, which states that transfer students are ineligible to participate until Jan. 21, 2013.

River Rouge athletic director Joe Emery said the district went through a process with the MHSAA to verify Poplar’s eligibility, and has received written confirmation that he is eligible to play. MHSAA associate director Tom Rashid confirmed the letter.

But Seidl is still questioning whether the transfer was within the rules, and sent an email to the MHSAA Monday questioning that.

Seidl said Poplar transferred from Westland John Glenn to Willow Run before last season, after moving from his mother’s home to his father’s home. MHSAA transfer rules allow a one-time exemption for players moving between parents’ homes, making Poplar eligible immediately.

Poplar finished the basketball season and school year at Willow Run, and enrolled at River Rouge this fall. Seidl said Poplar moved back in with his mother.

The MHSAA transfer rule allows for an athlete to transfer if the parent they were living with previously moves to a new district. Seidl said he spoke to Poplar’s father a month ago and was told that wasn’t the case.

“Unless he’s lying to me, I’m taking him at his word,” Seidl said.

Poplar, a 6-foot-9 forward, is being recruited by Michigan, according to The Free Press ranked him as the 21st-best player in the state heading into this season.

“It smells,” Seidl said. “It’s typical River Rouge, but it still smells.”

Rashid would not specifically address Poplar’s case, but said for a student to be immediately eligible he would need to move to a new district with a parent he lived with for at least 30 days during the previous academic year.

Seidl also took offense to what he called poor sportsmanship from River Rouge, when he said the Panthers continued to use a press defense and play its starters with a 40-point lead and a running clock in the second half.

“It was a real slap in our kids’ face,” Seidl said. “It showed poor sportsmanship, a lack of class and a lack of integrity.”

Emery said the lopsided score came from the fact that Willow Run continued to utilize a press defense late in the game, allowing for open layups. He said River Rouge did not start three players it normally starts.

“I don’t condone unsportsmanlike behavior, period,” Emery said.

Kyle Austin covers sports for He can be reached at or 734-623-2535. Follow him on Twitter @KAustin_AA.



Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 11:29 p.m.

It looks like Siedl was right. Why is it that no one reported on this. Poplar wasn't supposed to play in that game in December. River Rouge (4-3) at Detroit Community (6-5), Tue., 7: Two of the area's top Class B teams face each other and much of the attention will be on Jamal Poplar, who is expected to make his debut today, after sitting out the first semester because of the transfer rule, against Pontiac. From The Detroit News:

Kyle Austin

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 11:44 p.m.

Thanks for the link, Max, I hadn't realized that he had been sitting ever since this came to light.


Thu, Dec 20, 2012 : 9:33 p.m.

I understand rules are made to be followed but, this is a 16 year old kid in the middle of this situation. Jamal doesn't decide which school he attends, his parents makes those decisions. My thing with this is, if the kid and his parents doesn't want to attend your school or play sports for your school for whatever reason, why try and make him lose eligibility? Willow Run wouldn't gain anything out of it if they pursue it. It would only hurt Jamal, the 16 yr old kid. The AD's only objective isn't just to be fair. I know first hand because he threatened to pursue this with Jamal and other players back in the summer. Before he knew what their reasons for wanting to transfer. LEAVE JAMAL ALONE. LET THE KID HAVE SOME PEACE!


Sat, Dec 22, 2012 : 4:52 p.m.

Amen, Prep Junkie. The more FlyerPride89 writes the more he proves why he did not get the job for Willow Run. If FlyerPride89 is really coach Davis good job to Willow Run for not hiring him. He doesn't seem like the sort of person a school should have running a program. Nuff about coach Davis, did the state make Poplar sit down? Anyone have details?

Prep Junkie

Sat, Dec 22, 2012 : 4:08 a.m.

FlyerPride, the only plan seems to be from River Rouge and their illegal player. They are ones who made up a story so the kid could play and now they are going to have to pay for it. From what I hear their already paying. Why do you keep bringing up your son? Were you planning on breaking the rules like Poplar. The Willow Run AD and principal can't keep you from leaving but, they can report you if you cheat. Is that what you're saying you were going to cheat? Shame on you.


Sat, Dec 22, 2012 : 1:33 a.m.

Reelin, See that's where your wrong. Seidl was the AD this summer. He took over the duties from the previous AD early. I know transfers have rules and they should abide by them but, I'm not a cheater and don't really care for them. This was a plan of Seidl's and the principal way back in the summer, before the 2011/12 school year even ended. I know this because my son was one of the kids wanting to transfer. So, I get it. I know what's going on Sir.


Thu, Dec 20, 2012 : 9:53 p.m.

flyerpride89, you still not get it, transfers have rules and you gotta follow them. it seems like willow run doesn't want poplar back on the team, they just want him to follow rules like their guys do. you should stop saying you kow siedl because he doesn't seem to think like your talking about. he wasn't even the ad last summer.


Thu, Dec 20, 2012 : 1:08 a.m.

Lets remember to focus on the issue which is the transfer rule and if the player is eligible or not. If the Willow Run AD feel someone is cheating and has proof it is his job to contact the State and let them know. We should hold judgement until all the facts are in. It sound like there is more to the story the story then what we see right now. I like the fact that the AD is enforcing the rules and sticking up for his players and coach. He was one of the the best coach's Willow Run ever had and now he's standing strong as the AD. Good job!


Thu, Dec 20, 2012 : 9:47 p.m.

rsmitt, i like what your saying. the truth will come out. flyerpride89, you don't get it by my view. you probably should worry about karma coming around to bite you and the cheaters and liars. if you doggin siedl then you must not known him. it seems like he doing his job good coach, good ad, he's got willow run's back. plus he don't cheat.


Thu, Dec 20, 2012 : 9:22 p.m.

Whoever this is must be one of Seidl's friends, like the one he hired as his boys coach. Just like what TallGuy said, karma has come back to bite him. He's not just worried about being fair. He threatened to pursue Jamal and other players with the state before he even knew their reasoning for wanting to transfer. I know this first hand. My kid was one of them.


Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 11:12 p.m.

It looks like the River Rouge coach took lessons from the Pionerr football coach.

Kyle Austin

Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 7:41 p.m.

We have published an update to this story after speaking with Jamal Poplar's father:

Gordon Dooley

Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 4:33 p.m.

Mr. Seidl is doing his job is to stand up for his kids whom he makes play by the rules. I don't think he's doing anything that any other parent wouldn't do when they feel their kid has not gotten a fair deal. There has been allegations for years of River Rouge recruiting players, but to my knowledge they haven't been found guilty of anything so that makes them just that allegations. The real sad part of this whole story is a kid who's bouncing around much like the ball he dribbles. I hope his mother and father can provide more stability in life so that he can be successful on and off the court. I wish them all well...


Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 4:07 p.m.

And the point of Willow Run's disagreement with the kids' transfer is? Nothing against the reporter who detailed this story but really, Willow Run....what did you think might happen? Poplar as a 10th Grader is being scouted by U of M and other top tier universities, for his skills on the basketball court. What will be the "end results" of Ypsilanti/Willow Run "merger of equals" is up in the air, at best. This district still does not have a joint name for their now combined athletic teams. Up to a month or so ago, the "merged" district didn't know if any of their sport teams would have eligibility within MSHSAA, addressed previously in a Ann article. If I was Poplar's parent with his talent, I'd have moved my kid to another school district too. Should the kid suffer because the school district(s) can't get their act together. I think not. Let the kid play in River Rouge or elsewhere. Ypsi-Willow School District has other things these adjoined districts should be worried about.


Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 4 p.m.

This is sad to call out negatives at another program. It does look like sour grapes and as a part of school leadership, we should expect more. This creates opportunity for excuses and blame in the children when they see the adult leadership speak negatively. There are teachers and administrators that leave jobs on a regular basis. Mr. Seidl left the Saline program after only 1 year to go to Willow Run despite Willow Run being on the brink of a merger. Should there be a sit out rule for coaches that jump ship and abandon players? Given the merger that has been reported and in the works for a year, is it a bad thing that a family took the future of their son into their own hands instead of waiting for the failing districts to decide?


Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 9:01 p.m.

"Mr. Seidl left the Saline program after only 1 year to go to Willow Run despite Willow Run being on the brink of a merger." Check your facts. Seidl has been a teacher at WR for several years. I can't speak for why he left Saline but he did not leave "to go to WR". He was already there!

Why Ask

Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 3:50 p.m.

From what I've saw, read and heard from many.....This kid is nice..He's tall, can play every position and Willow Run thought he was going to attend there. So now they are trying everything in their power to not have him play...If the State of Michigan says he can play...Whats the problem... First of all Seidl needs to hire some decent coaches...Then maybe they can win a game. I was at the game where River Rouge spanked them.. I saw the RR Coach constantly bring in 4-5 different players everytime he subed. Not sure what game Seidl was crying about, but I'm sure you can see the footage (it doesnt lie) and the starters did not play the whole game..and yes, of course he was going to let the kid shine against his old school, he's gotten so much better..Why wouldn't he?...This is about Stats....Quit the whinning.


Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 2:43 p.m.

I saw this kid play last year - decent soft hands and all around pretty good. I was impressed with him. He's going to need to gain a bunch of weight, though, wherever he plays after high school.


Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 2:13 p.m.

It's just the sign of the times. Most coaches have no idea what sportsmanship is anymore. To them it's just .. pedal to the metal, drive the other team into the ground. Show no mercy, to heck with the consequences. This would be a game where the starters should not have seen the second half, very very little of it at least. Of course this coach had an excuse, sounds like the Pioneer coach who also had an excuse. My comment on the transfer? What is this kid a pinball? Pick a school, go to class and play for gosh sakes. It sounds a little fishy to me. And yes this is typical of River Rouge recruiting kids. Shame on them.


Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 4:18 p.m.

Hello, its' up to Poplar's parents if THEY wanted to change their Son's school district. The kid does not owe Willow Run High School Basketball Program anything. Did both of you miss that Willow Run & Ypsilanti are in the beginning stages of a "merger of equals?" With the school district(s) in a state of influx at best, yes, Poplar's parents had every right to move their child out of Willow Run P.S., if they so choose. It appears, they made the best decision for their child's needs. End of story.


Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 4:11 p.m.

The parents loyalty is to the best interest of their child which is the way it should be. How does loyalty help a person move on? Next year Willow Run as it currently exists will be no more, where is the district's loyalty to provide a quality education and opportunity? The actions of WR administrator stinks more than the recruitment that takes place in high school athletics .... but this is what the voucher legislation purchased (the right for the state appropriations to follow the student to whatever district). Schools recruit for students which equal budget dollars, it's not personal, it is business. WR has had declining enrollment, is merging with Ypsilanti to create an all new district, the coach from last year was fired, why stay at a school with so many questions? Why cry about someone leaving for what they believe is a better or more stable opportunity?


Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 2:47 p.m.

Agree 100%. It's really hard to find truly good sportsmanship these days. Even at the youngest levels it's not too hard to find coaches that don't know how to win with class. What's up with Poplar? The kid changes school every year. Do his parents and other adults in his life have any regard for loyalty? Probably not. I'm also not a big fan of tattoos on 16 year olds.


Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 2:01 p.m.

Really? Mr. Seidl is reacting to a loss with whining and unprofessional behavior. Maybe he can spend some time helping at practice instead of embarrassing his district.


Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 1:08 p.m.

Go Neptunes!


Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 12:06 p.m.

MichiganJamal Poplar is not good enough to play for Concordia let alone Mich.


Thu, Dec 20, 2012 : 9:16 p.m.

You couldn't know Jamal Poplar. Let alone has seen him play. Know what your talking about before you speak.

Why Ask

Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 3:41 p.m.

Stop it!!!! You know he has league potential..What 6'9" kid do you know who can bring the ball down like a pt-grd..but still catch an alley oop in the paint. Hating is not good for your health...Let's get back to the facts....I saw the boy play because he played against my son at many tournaments...He's good. Gotta give credit where it is due.