T.A. Cunningham, a top college football prospect who has been withheld from playing for weeks following a cross-country transfer, has been ruled eligible, the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section announced Monday.
Cunningham moved to California from Georgia in the summer but waited weeks to have his transfer approved by the Southern Section. Four games into the season, his high school, Los Alamitos, was informed that Cunningham was deemed ineligible.
Two weeks later, the section reversed its decision.
“We conducted a thorough review of the elements in this case, and all relevant CIF Bylaws that apply, as we do with all transfer applications that are submitted to our office,” a CIF Southern Section statement read. “We followed all our required processes and timelines in completing this review. Upon doing so, and after receiving new information that clarified issues related to the initial denial, we made the determination that the student was eligible to play at Los Alamitos High School as of [Monday].”
It is unclear what new information became available, and the section said it would not comment further about the process.
Cunningham had sought an injunction for immediate eligibility in Superior Court two weeks ago, but it was denied.
“We are ecstatic to see T.A. Cunningham take the field this week as a Griffin, and appreciative of the thorough process conducted by CIF,” Los Alamitos coach Ray Fenton told ESPN in a text message.
Cunningham’s move to California was set into motion after representatives from Levels Sports Group, a would-be sports marketing company, sold the Cunningham family on the idea that they would be able to secure him marketing opportunities if he was playing California, where it is legal for high school athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness.
“The Levels Team promised that the Cunningham family would have a home, transportation and meals in California,” according to the injunction filed on Cunningham’s behalf. “A promise was even made that the Levels Team would provide a separate home in Georgia for [Cunningham’s] mother.”
When Cunningham moved to California, he and his younger brother stayed at the home of Levels co-founder Chris Flores, who was later arrested on Aug. 8 on multiple counts of sexual assault of a minor. Flores was known in high school football circles as “Coach Frogg.”
In the wake of Flores’ arrest, the company stopped communicating with Cunningham and later agreed to terminate the contract for the marketing agreement. Cunningham, a defensive end, is the top-ranked player in California in the Class of 2024 and the No. 33 overall prospect in the ESPN 300.