In early October, Prep Rally wrote about a Rhode Island prep school that decided to forfeit rather than pit its players against a league foe because of the size of the players on the two teams. Now it appears that Rhode Island academy -- St. George's (R.I.) School -- may have been ahead of the curve, with the Independent School League handing down a series of harsh penalties against the powerhouse football program at Lawrence (Mass.) Academy.
According to the Boston Globe and ESPN Boston, LA, a dynamo among academically elite prep schools, was hit with six different penalties from the ISL. Chief among them were a three year ban from postseason bowls in the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council and the stripping of its 2009 and 2010 ISL titles.
While the penalties being imposed on Lawrence Academy are unquestionably strong, there is significant question about what, precisely, the Spartans did to warrant the sanctions themselves. The ISL would not specify what rules Lawrence Academy violated, and the school itself issued a statement after the penalty was handed down on Tuesday that read:
"Under advice of counsel, we're not going to comment on underlying issues that led to the sanctions."
Perhaps more telling have been the statements from Mike Taylor, the coach who built up the Lawrence Academy program himself. Taylor resigned from his job as head coach in February, with controversy still swirling around a program that developed a whopping seven Division I football athletes in its 2011 class.
"I'm sad and disappointed," Taylor told the Globe. "I don't know the inner workings of any violations there were, if there were any violations. If I did commit any, I take full responsibility for them.
"If I did something, it was unintentional. My efforts were always to help kids out."
Now those efforts will be put toward another program at another school. Only time will tell if the program he transformed into a New England giant can withstand both the loss of its architect and some of the most strict penalties imposed against a high school program in a number of years.
"My heart goes out to the kids, because they have nothing to do with any of this," Taylor told ESPNBoston. "They're ones that put their sweat into it, and it's unfortunate that the mistakes that adults make, the kids get punished for.
"If there were any rules that I violated, I'll be glad to accept full responsibility and apologize to not only the LA kids, but any student-athlete in the league. That's not what we're about, that's not what our intent was. Our intent is to help kids play a wonderful game and have a great experience, and move to the next level."