Smoky Mtn Forfeits Game
Members of Smoky Mountain High School's football team were seen crying Friday after news that one of their players had a lapsed physical on record. The team learned they were ineligible to play a highly anticipated playoff game on their home field Friday night.
"It's a matter of shared responsibility in this situation," said Davis Whitfield, Commissioner of North Carolina's High School Athletics Association. "I believe that everyone in this instance could have potentially prevented this."
"Unfortunately, when we reviewed our records today(Friday) it was discovered that morning that one of our players had a lapsed physical which meant that child would be ineligible," said Dr. Michael Murray, Superintendent of Jackson County Schools.
"This student started the year with a current physical but it lapsed for several games in the season," said Murray.
"It's very disappointing for our players. We care there's a lot of pride that goes into being a Mustang.
Murray said the Smoky Mountain High School's football coach, the school's athletic director and Smoky Mountain's principal all review paperwork for students that play on school athletic teams.
"Ultimately we should have caught it and when we caught it we should have made sure the child had a new physical done," said Murray.
Brandon Austin who wrestles for the school said he and his teammates learned of the oversight Friday at school.
"I just thought it was really stupid like ending the game, ending the whole season," said Austin. He also felt the student was culpable for not paying closer attention to the date of his last physical which has to be done every twelve months to remain eligible. Paperwork has to be filled out at the start of school team seasons.
"My wrestling coach told us that he(the student) didn't turn it in and believe that that was that kids' responsibility," said Austin.
Commissioner Whitfield commended Smoky Mountain administrators for calling in the issue which violates NCSHAA rules. The student also played in several winning games during the fall and those wins may have to be thrown out.
Smoky Mountain has been audited by the NCSHAA and received exemplary reports. New protocols will be put in place said Murray after their investigation into the oversight is completed.
by Kimberly King
Follow Kim on Twitter @KimKingReports