Judge rules against Sequoyah QB; next move to Oklahoma Supreme Court
BY MIKE BROWN World Sports Writer
Thursday, November 08, 2012
11/08/12 at 3:33 PM
TAHLEQUAH – A judge ruled against Tahlequah Sequoyah quarterback Brayden Scott in his attempt to overturn an Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association rule governing payment of individual summer camp fees.
District Judge Darrell Shepherd denied Scott’s request for a permanent injunction Thursday to reinstate Scott’s eligibility, overturn the rule and make Sequoyah eligible for the Class 3A football playoffs.
On Monday, the school forfeited its nine 2012 football victories, making the Indians ineligible for the playoffs. The bulk of the playoffs in all eight Oklahoma classifications gets under way Friday with first-round games.
“It looks like it’s time for a `Hail Mary’ pass,” said Scott’s attorney, Chad Smith.
Smith said his next move was to the Oklahoma Supreme Court. He filed a writ of mandamus seeking to overturn Shepherd’s judgment and had a hearing set with a court referee at 10 a.m. Friday in Oklahoma City.
The referee would then recommend to the high court on whether it should take action or hear additional arguments in the case.
On Wednesday, the OSSAA’s board of directors restored eligibility for 11 other Sequoyah athletes found in the violation of the rule and imposed sanctions against the school, but declined to restore Scott’s eligibility.
Todd Hembree, attorney general for the Cherokee Nation, appeared in Thursday’s hearing to say the school was not contesting the ruling or sanctions. However, several of Scott's teammates, friends and family members attended the one-hour hearing in Cherokee County District Court.
Attorney Mark Grossman and executive director Ed Sheakley represented the OSSAA.
The rules prohibit schools and outside sources from paying fees for athletes to attend individual camps and clinics. Smith argued, however, that the rule doesn't apply to Sequoyah as a program of the U.S. federal government and Bureau of Indian Education “because it does not specifically prohibit governments from paying camp fees."
Shepherd tried to deflect that argument by saying that rule ‘likewise doesn’t prohibit some football player’s father, who owns a big corporation, from paying all the expenses for his son’s team and that would be an unfair advantage.”
Shepherd said he understood the intent of the rule was to prevent one school from gaining an advantage over another “based on its financial position.”
Grossman argued that whatever Sequoyah’s situation within the federal government, it had to abide by the OSSAA’s rules as long as it hoped to remain a member school.
“In general, (the courts) need to stay out of the OSSAA’s business,” Shepherd said, citing precedence from a 2009 Oklahoma Supreme Court case. “There are some exceptions . . . but that is the general rule. The bottom line is that in the rules area, I must defer to the decision of the board of directors.”