Forest Hills coach suspended for recruiting violations

A local high school basketball coach has fouled out.

Ben Chobhaphand, head coach for the Forest Hills Rangers, has been suspended by the Public School Athletic League (PSAL) for alleged recruiting violations.

The PSAL accused the well-known coach of attempting to influence a player to switch schools for athletic purposes. Also accused is Steve Mandl, a celebrated baseball coach at George Washington High School in Manhattan.

The suspensions are effective immediately and neither coach will be permitted back at their positions until 2012.

The PSAL prohibits any act of recruiting, with the rules on the league’s web site stating “no school through any of its officers shall directly or indirectly induce any student to sever connections with his/her school or to transfer for athletic purposes.”

The investigation of Chobhaphand was initiated after Francis Lewis High School basketball coach Perry Dortch notified the PSAL in July that Chobhaphand was allegedly recruiting a player from Francis Lewis’ junior varsity squad.

Chobhaphand gained famed in 2009 when his Rangers defeated the heavily favored Cardozo High School Judges in the PSAL playoffs. Forest Hills also figures to be in the news next year, when celebrated product Maurice Harkless joins St. John’s up and coming basketball program.

Since commandeering the Rangers seven seasons ago, Chobhaphand led the team to one Queens title, two second-place finishes in Queens ‘AA,’ a trip to the PSAL Class ‘AA’ quarterfinals in 2009 and more than 100 victories.

This season, the Rangers went 10-4 in Queens ‘AA’ and 14-10 overall – receiving the eighth seed in the playoffs.

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