The National Basketball Federation of T&T (NBFTT), for the first time in the history of the sport and as an affiliate to FIBA, the world governing body of the sport since 1958, was suspended by the T&T Olympic Committee (TTOC), yesterday (Tuesday).
In a letter addressed to the NBFTT president Claire Mitchell from the TTOC president Brian Lewis, the federation head was formally advised that a decision was taken by the TTOC executive to immediately suspend the NBFTT from participating in any approved/sanctioned activities of the TTOC for six months, from yesterday (January 4) to July 4.
It said that the unanimous decision to suspend the NBFTT was based on several events which were listed chronologically. It is as follows:
“On Wednesday, May 12th, 2021 the duly constituted Arbitral Tribunal (Tribunal) of the TTOC arbitrated a dispute involving Mr Keith Clement, Ikenna Joseph and the NBFTT and following this, the Tribunal ruled as follows:
(i) The suspension of Mr Clement and Mr Joseph by the NBFTT Board was unconstitutional and should be reversed.
(ii) Though the Board of the NBFTT felt that the perceived actions of Mr Joseph and Mr Clement may have warranted Disciplinary action, it did not have the right to take such action.
“The process stipulated in the NBFTT Constitution should have been followed.
(iii) The NBFTT Constitution should be revised to ensure that the language and text support the concept of due process.
(iv) In order to adhere to the principles of natural justice it is important that NBFTT follows its Constitution and procedures.
(v) Even if reference is made to the FIBA’s Code of Conduct there should be a clear Code of Conduct governing all conduct at the local level as well as the penalties for non-adherence.
(vi) Persons who have grievances with the National Body should not resort to public displays of disagreement as this adversely affects the image and operations of the National Body. No party wins in that scenario.
“Notwithstanding this Order/Judgment of the Tribunal, to date, the NBFTT has failed to comply. The TTOC’s Constitution provides a mechanism 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.”
Reference was made of Clause 13 (I) of the TTOC’s Constitution which states: “When a member has failed to fulfil his/her or its duties, has infringed the Olympic Charter, the IOC Code of Ethics and/or this Constitution or has not respected or implemented the decisions or resolutions of the organs of the IOC, he/she or it may be subject to the following graduated measures and sanctions (depending on the gravity of the facts and the level of damage or infringement): a. Warning b. Suspension c. Expulsion.”
It went on to say that the TTOC sought through various correspondence to meet with representatives of the NBFTT in keeping with Section 13 (II) of the TTOC’s Constitution. Section 13 (II) states: “Decision to pronounce a warning or a suspension is made by the Executive Committee after having given an opportunity to the member concerned to be heard. The Executive Committee shall report accordingly at the next General Meeting.”
According to letter, the TTOC shared that it had given the NBFTT ample opportunities to be heard, however, to date no one from that organisation has seen it necessary to attend such a hearing, adding also that one of the fundamental roles of the TTOC is to propagate the principles of Olympism at national level within the framework of sports activity.
“This is corroborated by Clause 3 (I) of its Constitution which states that the TTOC is: ‘To ensure the observance of the Olympic Charter in Trinidad and Tobago and to comply with and enforce all rules and regulations of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as well as the IOC Code of Ethics and the basic universal principles of good governance of the Olympic Movement.”
It continued: “The TTOC has put a process in place to arbitrate disputes involving NSOs and their members and it is expected that decisions emanating therefrom should be respected. The NBFTT has blatantly disrespected this process and by its action, this amounts to contempt. 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 with effect from January 4, 2022, to July 4, 2022. The following are the consequences of the suspension:- (1) NBFTT would not be required to participate in any authorised sporting event of the TTOC either locally, regionally or internationally.”
On October 1, the TTOC had sent an invitation letter to the NBFTT inviting the organisation to a meeting on October 14, however, on the day of the meeting the NBFTT sent a legal letter to TTOC requesting two weeks to prepare a response to the concerns of the TTOC. Guardian Media Sports understands, the two weeks ended on October 28 and since then there has been no communication from the NBFTT.