President of the National Basketball Federation of Trinidad and Tobago Claire Mitchell issued a media release expressing disappointment that the NBFTT has been suspended by the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee, describing the decision as being ‘draconian’. The release reiterated Vice President Ishmael St Bryce’s comments on Tuesday that the NBFTT did in fact follow the TTOC’s recommendations to reinstate the suspended duo of VP (Finance) Ikenna Joseph and Basketball Coaches Association (BCATT) Keith Clement.
The release stated “on July 14, 2021, the NBFTT Board met and reversed its Suspension Decision and followed the recommendation of TTOC to use Article 10:3 of its Constitution to discipline Keith Clement and Ikenna Joseph for bringing the Federation into
disrepute”. The release issued by the NBFTT President further stated that “on July 23, 2021, the NBFTT sent a letter to TTOC and copied the Arbitration Committee informing them of the above. The TTOC Secretary-General acknowledged receipt of the email
correspondence on July 25, 2021. On August 19, 2021 Mr. Clement and Mr. Joseph
sent their NBFTT expulsion letters to TTOC and copied the NBFTT Board. The letters
outlined the details above. As such, NBFTT showed that it respected the decision of
the Arbitration Committee and fulfilled its obligation to inform the TTOC accordingly.”
The NBFTT has further stated the TTOC invited the President (Claire Mitchell) and General Secretary (Rachel Dick) to a meeting with Ikenna Joseph and Keith Clement, stating that “that this is not an Arbitration Tribunal however it is an opportunity for all parties
to sit around the table to discuss the best way forward for Basketball in Trinidad and
On September 6, 2021, the NBFTT re-iterated that it had followed the TTOC Decision, asked the TTOC to respect its constitutional board decision as it was made with the best interest of basketball in mind. The NBFTT further advised the TTOC that it found no value in discussing the “best way forward for basketball” with persons who were recently expelled for engaging in conduct deemed inimical to the interest of the sport.
The NBFTT’s release further stated that on October 4, 2021, TTOC sent a letter formally accusing the NBFTT of not following the recommendation of the Arbitration Committee and summoning the Federation to say why. While the letter admonished the need for due process, there was no evidence that the TTOC took any time to establish whether the accusation in its letter was indeed factual. The letter (dated October 1, 2021), similar to the Suspension Letter (dated January 4, 2022) – failed to inform how the TTOC came to the conclusion that the Arbitration Committee’s Decision was not followed. Rather, the letter demanded to know why the Decision was not followed; when, in fact, it was.
The NBFTT has already donned the boxing gloves as the release stated the “NBFTT is willing to expose this to a higher level of transparency. We will meet TTOC at any forum, Court of Arbitration, Civil Court, Court of Public Opinion, etc., to correct this national ‘faux pas’ “.
The NBFTT has retained Keith Scotland of Virtus Chambers as its legal counsel in this
matter. They are hopeful that clarity will be offered to the situation swiftly to avoid players being robbed of opportunities outside of FIBA – such as the upcoming Commonwealth Games – to represent their country, due to administrative missteps and misconceptions.