High School Sports

High school league upholds ban on Blythewood

COLUMBIA -- The second time in front of the S.C. High School League's executive committee went no better than the first for Blythewood High.

An 11-5 vote Monday kept in place the playoff ban Blythewood received for violating league practice guidelines under former coach Reggie Shaw earlier this year.

The decision means Blythewood, winner of 22 consecutive games, will not be allowed to defend its Class 3A football championship it won last December.

"I was hoping for the best," Blythewood principal Keith Price said. "At this point, we take the results and move on."

The hearing was a reconsideration of the appeal Blythewood presented to the committee in July. In that meeting, the committee voted 7-6 to ban the Bengals from postseason play.

One of the stipulations for a second hearing called for Blythewood to prove it had new information that was not available at the first hearing. The committee voted Monday that Blythewood did not meet that standard.

S.C. High School League commissioner Jerome Singleton instructed committee members not to comment on the decision. But Singleton said he is confident the committee had a handle on what it needed to hear.

"Is it a matter of new information because it wasn't available to me or is it new information because I just didn't get it?" Singleton said. "Is it material to bringing about a change? These are educators that make decisions all the time, and they are used to dealing with controversy. I am comfortable that they know what they are looking for."

Blythewood chose to close Monday's hearing to the public while Price, athletics director Vince Lowry, Richland 2 superintendent Steve Hefner and six Bengals players made their presentation to the 16-person committee.

Singleton said later that Blythewood did not dispute the findings of rules violations.

"At no point did they say that the violations didn't occur," Singleton said.

While not going into specifics, Price said later that Blythewood presented examples of recent cases involving other schools in order to compare their penalties with those that Blythewood received.

"We wanted to look at consistency and fairness with those sanctions and what's been handed down with our Blythewood program," said Price, who is in his first year at the school.

Price also alluded to Shaw, who resigned as coach on Aug. 2 after the Bengals were found to have violated practice guidelines a second time by holding full-contract drills before Aug. 1. The second violation occurred less than a week after the executive committee's first vote to uphold the playoff ban.

"We've had a change of personnel since our first appeal," Price said. "There were some comments in our first appeal that we did not get a chance to respond to. We wanted to make sure we did everything in our power and did everything we could that would be in favor of our students."

After listening to Blythewood's presentation for 50 minutes, the committee went into executive session for another 45 minutes. After that discussion, the meeting was re-opened to the public. A motion to accept the information as new was defeated, thus ending the Bengals' chances.

While disappointed, Price said the players remain intent to stretch their winning streak to 24 games.

"The great thing about our students is they are men of character and dignity," Price said. "They already have their goals in place. There are two games left in our season. We have an important game this Friday with Lugoff-Elgin. Our season-ending game is the following week against Eau Claire. They are 100 percent focused and ready to complete a perfect season."yes

When asked if the school would pursue legal action against the S.C. High School League, Price said no.

"We have done everything we can within SCHSL regulations," he said. "We support the league and will continue to support the league. They have made their decision, and now we will move on."

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