RIVERSIDE, Mo. — Six Missouri high school football teams, including three in the Kansas City area, played with ineligible athletes this season, forcing them to forfeit several games.
The latest in the Kansas City metro to report the problem was Park Hill South, now forfeiting its first seven games of the season.
Staff realized the mistake last week at the administrative level. They said the coaches and the team were not aware.
The Park Hill School District said the student-athlete was ineligible due to a transfer rule.
Based on the Missouri State High School Activities Association’s rules, the Panthers had to forfeit all games the student played in, which in this case was all seven played so far this season.
“We take full responsibility for this misstep and have ensured that we are following remedial guidance from MSHSAA moving forward. We have corrected the process through which the mistake was made,” Principal Kerrie Herren said in a letter sent to football families.
“This is not representative of our program, and we are sincerely sorry for this mistake. Our focus will be on supporting our student-athletes and our coaching staff as we move forward.
“This does not diminish the dedication, work ethic and commitment of our team and program. We continue to be proud of our football environment and we thank you for your support of our community.”
Park Hill South isn’t alone.
MSHSAA said five other schools across the state have forfeited games due to an ineligible football player this season.
“It does seem to be quite a few, many more than what we’ve dealt with in the past,” MSHSAA communications director Jason West said.
All of them self-reported.
“There’s not an investigative arm within MSHSAA,” West said. “Member schools govern themselves and reporting is appreciated and needed.”
West said there are no new rules or procedures this year. He believes it’s just schools taking a closer look at the handbook and word of mouth.
“There’s a trickledown effect,” West said. “Once it happens to the first school, other schools make sure they’re doing it properly, and then find out they’re not.”
Grandview High School said one of their football players participated in the first four games while ineligible.
The Bulldogs won three of those games, according to online records. Now, MSHSAA will be forced to take the wins away.
Grandview High School sent this message to the community:
“Rest assured, we have already taken steps to update and enhance our processes and procedures to ensure that gaps like this do not occur in the future. We are committed to upholding the highest standards of integrity and compliance in all aspects of our athletic program.
“Despite this setback, we are immensely proud of the dedication and hard work our student-athletes have demonstrated throughout the year. We believe in their potential, and we look forward to the remainder of the season with optimism and enthusiasm. We appreciate your understanding and continued support of our student-athletes in their pursuit of excellence.”
Lincoln Prep Academy has also forfeited five games after playing an ineligible athlete, according to the district.
A sub-varsity restricted player played in several varsity games in a limited capacity. The school said a misinterpretation of the term “sub-varsity” was the cause of the mistake.
Lincoln Prep Academy said this in a letter to families this week:
“Lincoln College Preparatory Academy remains steadfast in our dedication to our student-athletes and their pursuit of excellence. We are proud of their hard work and commitment to their sports and academic pursuits. This situation does not diminish our confidence in their potential nor the reality of their ability to compete and be victorious at a high level.
“We thank our school community, parents, and supporters for their continued understanding and unwavering support. We stand behind our coaches and our players. We are committed to taking every measure necessary to ensure that this situation is rectified and that we emerge from it as a stronger and more knowledgeable institution.”
West said he can’t go into specifics about why any player was marked as ineligible. He said a student can only participate in four quarters a day and six quarters in a week.
Although the forfeits impact each team’s regular season records, West reminds players that all schools make it to the playoffs in Missouri.