A senior who lives in the Southeast school zone but attends the Whitfield Career Academy participated in the varsity team’s victories over Lithia Springs and its first of two wins over Murray County, Raiders coach David Crane said. Southeast beat Murray County 70-0 in the season opener on Aug. 26 and Lithia Springs 44-13 on Sept. 23.
“We had a young man who was a senior who came out for football for the first time,” Crane said. “He played about two plays at the end of the Lithia game and about two plays at the end of the first Murray game. It was our understanding that, if his enrollment showed Southeast was his attendance area, that he was eligible to play for us.
“That was not the case. It was a misrepresentation of the rules and policies on our part. With him being a senior and not playing before, it’s not been an issue before.”
Crane declined to name the athlete.
Scott Ramsey, Southeast’s athletic director, said the GHSA also fined the school $200. He said the full-time Career Academy student would have been eligible if his records had shown him as a student at Southeast.
“All it is, is where you’re listed in the computer,” Ramsey said. “In the computer his records didn’t get changed from the Career Academy to Southeast. He’s a Southeast kid. He came up through our feeder schools. But since he was a Career Academy kid, he didn’t count toward our FTE (Full-time Enrollment). It’s a clerical error. He didn’t get changed. But that’s still against the rules.”
FTE counts are used to determine a school’s level of play, or classification, in the GHSA. The classifications for the next two-year cycle were announced last month, and the new regions are expected to be determined and announced today.
The forfeits drop Southeast’s record to 1-9 and improve Murray County’s record to 2-8. Murray County’s other victory this season came from a forfeit by Dalton High School for also using an ineligible player.
Dalton was forced to forfeit four victories and saw its run of consecutive winning seasons come to an end at 51 after Southeast officials reported the Catamounts for using a former Southeast player who, it was discovered after a GHSA investigation, did not make a “bona fide” move under GHSA requirements and was ruled ineligible.
Crane said school officials reported their violation and also reviewed participation in all other sports.
“We’ve looked at all the rosters from this past fall and going into winter,” Crane said. “And the young man in football was the only one in question. We ain’t got anything to hide.”
While the oversight led to giving up two victories, Crane said he was pleased with the opportunity the player had to get on the field.
“We do have to forfeit games,” Crane said. “But I would trade those two wins for that kid getting a chance to play high school football. He’s going to be able to look back and say he got to play .... In the long run, that’s a lot more meaningful than two victories.”
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