Two highly touted football programs in different states were treated in vastly different ways on the verge of the state playoffs, highlighting how bylaws in individual states' organizational codes can drastically alter that state's football forecast.
In Florida, one of the state's top football programs was forced to forfeit seven victories, and its district title as a result, because of the use of three ineligible players during much of the team's impressive regular-season campaign. The forfeits also force the team to miss out on the forthcoming Florida High School Athletic Association playoffs.
According to the Miami Herald, the Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) Boyd Anderson football team self-reported that three of the team's standout seniors -- Hergy Auguste, Henry Lambert and Justin Seays -- used false addresses to gain eligibility to play for the Cobras during their final high school season. The team forfeited all of its first seven victories, dropping the team's official record from 8-1 to 2-7.
While the school's self-reporting of the violations end any postseason dreams the football team may have been harboring, it also may help the school save thousands of dollars. FHSAA executive director Roger Dearing told the Herald that the school would likely only face a fine of $100 per player per ineligible game, a total which would rise to around $2,100 for the three athletes' total terms of ineligibility. That's just a fraction of fines levied against other schools in the past calendar year, which have reached tens of thousands of dollars.
"[Boyd Anderson principal Angel Almanzar] was very pro-active in making sure something like this won't happen again at the school," Dearing told the Herald. "I know it hurts the students now to have to go through this, but by doing this he creates a level of sportsmanship that will help to prevent something like this from happening in the future."
Meanwhile, the Anderson forfeits have launched another South Florida school into the playoffs with just days to prepare. Oakland Park (Fla.) Northeast High saw its record improve from 5-4 to 6-3 overnight, landing it a district title and vacating its existing runners-up slot behind Boyd Anderson. That spot in turn will be held by Blanche (Fla.) Ely High, which finished with a one game advantage on Boyd Anderson in district record, earning it an unlikely playoff berth at 6-3 overall.
"It's not the way we'd necessarily want to get into the playoffs, but we'll take it," Blanche Ely coach Rodney Gray told the Herald. "I feel for [Boyd Anderson coach Wayne Blair] and his kids, but we're happy to have an opportunity to play again and keep trying for our goal of winning a state championship."
Three states to the Northeast, it was discovered that Mineral Springs (Ark.) High used an ineligible player in each game since mid-September, after the player in question transferred to the school from Nashville (Ark.) High. Yet, because Mineral Springs' various opponents never officially reported their questions about the player's eligibility within a five-day window after discovering the alleged violations, the school will go unpunished.
Mineral Springs' violation was reported by the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, with the newspaper citing the language in Arkansas Activities Association guidebook Section 4, Rule 1 as the reason why Mineral Springs will retain its No. 5 seed in the forthcoming state playoffs, which begin on Friday.
" … any authorized representative of a member school or involved game official may file a complaint against any school or school representative for a violation of the rules and regulations of this association. Such complaint shall be filed with the executive director of the Arkansas Activities Association in writing within five working days after the discovery of the violation."
Naturally, the effects of the two rulings for two similar violations could hardly be more different. That disparity highlights just how widespread enforcement can be, from the most strict to one of the more lenient states on the spectrum.
Still, at the same time, both states did ban the ineligible players from taking any further part in the season. The difference is that in one case, the player's entire team was banned along with him.
- Boyd Anderson