COLUMBUS, Ohio —The following is a joint statement released at 3 p.m., Friday by Eastern Local Schools and the Ohio High School Athletic Association.
Court documents previously not provided to the OHSAA or Eastern Local Schools were submitted by the family of an Eastern High School student late Thursday afternoon have resulted in the OHSAA rescinding two forfeitures for the EHS football team. The two victories will be reflected Sunday when the OHSAA’s final football computer points ratings are released at OHSAA.org.
Court filings in both Ohio and Florida prove that legal proceedings to effect the custody of the student had commenced before his participation in any contests for the school.
“We are happy for the family and the school that these new documents were submitted,” Dr. Dan Ross, OHSAA Commissioner, said. “Forfeitures, especially in a sport like football where not every team qualifies for the postseason, can be a difficult process. However, that cannot prevent the OHSAA from following the bylaws established by our member schools, including Eastern. I commend our staff for doing a thorough job and being willing to take the criticism that came with this particular situation.”
Eastern will still face sanctions, including a significant monetary fine and follow-up education, for violation of Bylaw 4-1-1 Administrative Error. As was announced by the OHSAA Thursday, Eastern administrators did not request an eligibility ruling for a transfer student, and when they did submit documentation, they told the OHSAA that a proper change of custody had occurred. However, it was discovered that the proper documents did not exist and that student did not meet either a residency or transfer bylaw exception, which resulted in the initial ruling of EHS forfeiting two victorious contests in which the ineligible student participated.
“We at Eastern Local are very happy about the decision of OHSAA and highly respect and appreciate their efforts in working with us through this difficult situation,” said Scot Gheen, superintendent of Eastern Local Schools. “We believe this was a fair and equitable resolution for both parties. We look forward to the continued membership with OHSAA and will use this process as a guide to better enhance the correct protocols in the future.”