York back in football playoffs

COLUMBIA — The York Cougars are back in the playoffs. By a 13-0 vote this afteroon, the S.C. High School League's Executive Committee decided to uphold the school's appeal of a Monday decision that removed them from the football playoffs because they dressed an ineligble player during Friday’s game against Beaufort.

York will travel to Conway on Friday to play the Tigers in the second round of the Class AAAA Division II playoffs.

“The reputation of our program went a long way with the committee,” York Superintendent Russell Booker said. “They felt there was no ill intent on the part of anyone. They also felt the safegurds wer putting in place to esure this never happens again are sufficient.”

Head football coach John Barrett hurried out of the meeting, which was closed to the media, with a huge smile on his face. He called back to the school to tell his coaches that the team, which was practicing, is back in the playoffs. He also called his wife.

“When I left the kids late Tuesday after practice, I told them that we were doing everything the right way and that everything would work out,” Barrett said. “This decision speaks highly of the program that (York Athletic Director) Steve Boyd runs and his reputation.”

The original decision to ban the team from the playoffs came after York Athletics Director Steve Boyd reported to the High School League late Monday afternoon that the Cougars dressed an ineligible player in their 21-14 win over Beaufort.

The league received a written report on the violation from Boyd Tuesday after lunch and ruled that York's season was over, putting Beaufort, instead of York, against Conway on Friday.

Boyd said the mistake was one that was overlooked and that measures are being put into place to ensure it doesn't happen again.

"The player in question had no impact on the game at all ... stood on the sideline and watched. Like other schools who make the playoffs, we asked as a reward if any of our ninth-grade or JV players wanted to practice for the playoffs and dress for the games, and eight or nine wanted to do it,'' Boyd said Tuesday.

Boyd said the process started Monday afternoon when a basketball coach approached him and said the player wanted to try out for basketball, but that he could not find a transfer form.

The player moved to York in mid-September and Boyd thought his eligibility and transfer forms had been filled out and sent to the High School League.

When Boyd checked the league's Web site, he saw the player's name wasn't on the list of approved transfers. Boyd called SCHSL Executive Director Jerome Singleton and told him of the violation.

Boyd checked the player's transcript Tuesday morning and saw the player did not have enough credits to be eligible. He was asked to submit a written report detailing the incident.

"The young man was repeating the ninth grade and lacked the units required to play,'' Boyd said. "He turned in his birth certificate and physical form, but his eligibility and transfer forms was never sent to the league."When I saw he didn't have enough credits, I called Jerome and told him what had happened. He asked that I send a report and that the league would rule on it.''

SCHSL Assistant Executive Director Roger Hazel confirmed that Boyd reported the violation and sent a report. He said based on the information and the league's constitution, York had a player participate that was ineligible. Therefore, York was ineligible for the playoffs.

See Thursday’s Herald for more.