Tahlequah Sequoyah QB denied eligibility injunction
BY MIKE BROWN World Sports Writer
Friday, November 09, 2012
11/09/12 at 4:57 AM
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 that would have reinstated Scott's eligibility, overturned the rule and made 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 opens Friday with first-round games. Two games were played on Thursday.
"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 10 a.m. Friday hearing in Oklahoma City with court referee Greg Albert, who would then make a recommendation to the nine-member high court.
On Wednesday, the OSSAA's board of directors restored the athletic eligibility for 11 other Sequoyah athletes found in the violation of the rule. Those athletes are eligible for the remainder of the 2012-13 academic year in sports such as basketball, wrestling, baseball and track.
The board also imposed sanctions against the school, but declined to restore Scott's eligibility.
Todd Hembree, attorney general for the Cherokee Nation, appeared at Thursday's hearing to say the school was not contesting the ruling or sanctions.
Smith filed a cross-claim against the school, saying Sequoyah "wronged my client by issuing forfeitures at the direction of the OSSAA."
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 rule in question prohibits schools and outside sources from paying fees for athletes to attend individual camps and clinics.
Shepherd said he understood that the intent of the rule was to make sure that no school gained a competitive advantage over another based on its financial position.
Smith argued that the rule doesn't apply to Sequoyah, technically a program of the U.S. federal government and Bureau of Indian Education, because the rule "does not specifically prohibit governments from paying camp fees."
But Shepherd argued that "likewise (the rule) 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 amount to an unfair advantage."
Grossman said that whatever Sequoyah's situation within the federal government, the school must abide by the OSSAA's rules for as long as it hopes 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 (OSSAA's) board of directors."
Original Print Headline: Sequoyah QB denied eligibility injunction
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