Lansing native James Nash transferred to Mount Pleasant High School during the first week of the 2012-13 school year under the alias Javier Jones.
Nash, who turned out to be 21 years old, did so in order to play football, until school officials discovered that he forged legal documents in order to appear eligible to compete in high school athletics. According to the Michigan High School Athletic Association, any student who turns 19 years old before Sept. 1 is ineligible to compete in any sport at the high school level.
“Police helped us identify (Nash’s) true identity,” Mount Pleasant High School Athletic Director Jim Conway said. “They looked into his files and conducted some background checks to discover his true identity and confirm that he was using an alias in order to play for the football team.”
Conway said he received an anonymous phone call from a parent about Nash’s true identity. Conway said Nash went to extraordinary measures to avoid being caught.
“He did a really good job of forging his documents, such as transcripts and a current address,” Conway said. “An ordinary person like you or me wouldn’t have been able to tell that they were in fact forged documents.”
Nash was born in 1991 and changed all of his legal documents to say he was born in 1994 in order to be eligible to play for the football team and perhaps even the basketball team, which he planned to do before being caught.
“The thing that frustrates me the most is that one individual would take it upon themselves to tarnish our school and damage the reputation of our athletic program,” Conway said. “It’s absolutely absurd; I’d never expect someone to do something like this.”
Conway said the case has been turned over to the prosecutor’s office, but he is unsure whether formal charges will be filed.
“We try to help out the local agencies in whatever way we can, and trust that they are going to follow through and do the right thing,” he said.
When asked how Nash got away with this for so long, Conway said, “He presented himself as an average high school student athlete. He didn’t draw attention to himself, kept up with his academic work, and in doing that slipped under everyone’s radar.”
According to his coaches, Nash had a ‘yes sir, no sir’ attitude, and made it hard for anyone to believe that he was a fraud, Conway said.
Nash contributed to two of the four Oiler wins this season, and it is expected that both of those wins will be forfeited.
“I think that’s the part that upsets our students the most, that their hard work and effort is going to be thrown away because of one man’s selfish act,” Conway said.
Despite the situation, Conway said he was pleased by how his school is handling this problem.
“I’m very proud that everyone, including coaches, administration, and even our students are handling this situation in a professional manner,” Conway said. “We all realize that there are repercussions for things like this, and we are prepared to face those.”
Conway said he hopes to move forward from this, with his ultimate goal being to right this wrongdoing and handle things in a positive and professional manner.