OSSAA reinstates eligibility for 11 of 12 Tahlequah Sequoyah football players
BY MIKE BROWN World Sports Writer
Thursday, November 08, 2012
11/08/12 at 4:57 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association reinstated the athletic eligibility of 11 Tahlequah Sequoyah football players following a contentious meeting of more than two hours Wednesday.
The OSSAA's Board of Directors unanimously approved a motion to reinstate the eligibility of the athletes, who were found in violation of an OSSAA rule governing participation in individual summer camps.
But the board refrained from reinstating so-called "Athlete A," later identified as senior quarterback Brayden Scott by his attorney and former Cherokee principal chief, Chad Smith.
"He's been to more camps than anyone else, his father (Brent Scott) is the head football coach, and I guess (the board) wanted to make an example of somebody," Smith said.
The board also levied penalties in the form of seven recommendations for the Sequoyah athletic department. Included are the prohibition of spring football practice, participation in team camps and summer 7-on-7 passing leagues and participation in scrimmages with other schools prior to the 2013 football season.
"I think (the ruling is) very fair," athletic director Marcus Crittenden said. "It could have been a lot worse. But we still are very saddened that our kids are suffering the consequences of mistakes that are not their own."
Sequoyah officials say the athletes did nothing knowingly wrong by attending camps paid for by the school, but are being forced to pay for the mistakes of former school and tribal administrators who allowed the practice to continue. Sequoyah is administered by the Cherokee Nation.
"The adults in this situation not only put their athletic careers in jeopardy but also their chances for athletic scholarships that would send them to college. It's been a terrible situation for them," superintendent Leroy Qualls said in a Cherokee Nation release.
On Monday, the school emailed forfeiture notifications to the schools the Indians defeated in rolling to a 9-1 record in 2012 - forfeits that disqualify Sequoyah from competing in the Class 3A playoffs.
But Wednesday's action may not have been the last word in the matter. Smith said he had a hearing set for 9 a.m. Thursday in Cherokee County District Court and still hopes to overturn the OSSAA rule and have Sequoyah reinstated in the playoffs.
"I'm in this to the end," Smith said. "As long as there's any chance, I'm going to do everything I can to see that these kids get to play their tournament."
Smith argued Wednesday that the OSSAA rule allows waivers for students in need and that Sequoyah, founded as an orphanage and vocational training school for native Americans in 1871, "has always been, by definition, a school for people in need. It's been our history."
He also argued that Sequoyah is a part of the U.S. Department of Interior, and under the OSSAA policy, "governments are not prohibited from paying camp fees."
Under the ruling, Sequoyah is placed on two-year warning, meaning discovery of violations could result in probation or suspension of membership.
Head coach Brent Scott, already on administrative leave, is suspended from any coaching duties at Sequoyah or any other OSSAA institution for a year, after which he may apply to the OSSAA board for reinstatement.
Also under the board's recommendations, the school is required to complete an internal audit of all sports programs by Jan. 14 to determine whether other athletes are in violation of OSSAA rules, whether coaches understand and are complying with the rules, and what changes should be made to ensure against future violations.
Sequoyah must pay attorneys fees up to $25,000.
The board also ruled that Larry Grigg, already replaced as athletic director, should also be deemed to be suspended, and not returned to the position unless reinstated by the OSSAA board.
"Today's victory is all about the kids," Cherokee principal chief Bill John Baker said in a tribal release "The eligibility of these students was threatened by former school administrators, all of whom were adults and knew better than to ignore clearly defined OSSAA rules. Over the summer we hired a new superintendent and athletic director, both of whom are committed to compliance with association rules."
In other action, the board denied eligibility appeals for girls basketball players Amy and Courtney Tiger and boys basketball player Caisen Green.
Original Print Headline: 11 Sequoyah players reinstated
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