By Kenton Brooks
Phoenix Sports Writer
Sequoyah is out of the high school football playoffs.
The Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association ruled Saturday it had violated the summer camp participation rule and a rule involving recruiting, OSSAA executive director Ed Sheakley said.
“The students had participated in violation of these rules and the penalty for doing that is forfeiture of all their wins,” Sheakley said. “This takes them out of playoffs.”
In late October, 12 Sequoyah players and head coach Brent Scott were ruled ineligible for violating the OSSAA rule of summer camp participation and payment.
Sequoyah will have to forfeit its six wins in District 3A-7, making Hilldale the district champion, Keys the runner-up, Lincoln Christian in third place and Jay gets the final postseason berth as the fourth-place team. All had lost to Sequoyah on the field this season.
Hilldale will host Checotah on Friday and get a second-round home game with a victory. Keys will host Spiro. Stigler, the other area team affected as the District 3A-8 champion, will be home against Jay.
The summer camp rule (OSSAA Rule 10-D-2c) states that athletes are not allowed to participate in individual camps where players’ expenses are paid for by the “school, by school personnel or by any booster group or organization associated with the school, or by any non-family member.”
Some of the suspended players filed and received a temporary restraining order, which was upheld by Cherokee County District Court Judge Douglas Kirkley, that allowed them play in the last two district games, which were victories against Hilldale and Lincoln Christian.
In petitioning for the restraining order, lawyers representing some of the players said Sequoyah’s due process had been violated. But in playing the games, Sheakley said those games would be applied as well to the forfeited games.
Sheakley also pointed to the part of OSSAA Rule 9, Section 2 that recruiting is defined as “offering or providing special additional coaching or instruction that is not offered or made available to other student-athletes at the school on an equal basis, or providing special attention or consideration to a student-athlete considering transferring.”
The suspended students will have the chance to appeal that ruling at Wednesday’s meeting of the OSSAA’s Board of Directors in Oklahoma City. But Sheakley says that hearing “will be for reinstatement of the students who want to participate in other activities,” adding that “we are finished with our investigations.”
Interim head coach Shane Richardson said he was “disappointed” about Saturday’s ruling.
“I’m in it for the kids,” he said. “I feel bad for the players and their families. I’m disappointed for all of those people.”
Marcus Crittenden, Sequoyah’s athletic director, said that he was “saddened by the turn of events for the kids, who did nothing wrong.”
“The former administration should have known better,” he said. “They were trusted to get things right and didn’t get it done.”
Crittenden and Amanda Clinton, Cherokee Nation’s director of communications, said Sequoyah is “working with the OSSAA to rebuild trust.”
It wasn’t clear whether Sequoyah officials would seek further legal action.
Earlier this fall, Sequoyah had to vacate its slowpitch state championship because of an ineligible player.
— Tahlequah Daily Press sports editor Ben Johnson contributed to this story