EAST ORANGE – East Orange Campus High School boys’ varsity basketball head coach Billy Lovett has been suspended by the East Orange Board of Education.
Lovett was suspended a week before the season began. The suspension is until Jan. 2.
The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association is investigating a complaint about the boys’ basketball program.
The Jaguars lost at Newark Central, 72-71, in the season opener on Friday, Dec. 18.
Lovett was told he was not allowed to select his players for the team, nor is he permitted to contact the team or allowed to be in EOCHS.
In all, Lovett will miss six games. In addition to the season opener, Lovett will miss games against Bloomfield Tech on Dec. 22 and Randolph on Dec. 23, and three games in the East Orange Christmas Tournament.
Lovett’s first game with the team will be Jan. 5 at Columbia High School in Maplewood.
Newark Central beat the Jaguars after Keith Banks hit one of two free throws with three seconds left.
Marquise Kindel scored a game-high 27 points for the Jaguars. Arthur Mitchell had 14 points and Jordan Taylor had 12 points for EOCHS.
In his two seasons at the helm, Lovett has turned around the boys’ basketball program. Lovett took over a team that won just two games the previous season. The Jaguars have won the Super Essex Conference-Liberty Division title in each of Lovett’s two seasons, sharing the title with Orange in his first season in 2013-14 as the Jaguars finished with a 16-10 record.
Last season, the Jaguars finished runner-up in both the Essex County Tournament and state North Jersey Section 1, Group 4 tournament, losing to Seton Hall Prep and Paterson Eastside in those finals, respectively. EOCHS finished with a 25-5 record.
The Jaguars have had academic success under Lovett, who has implemented a study hall for his players. In his two years, the Jaguars have had 10 seniors who have all gone on to college.