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Prep football: Herriman protests decision on East High

Published October 21, 2012 11:38 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Herriman • East and Timpview had their day in front of the Utah High School Activities Association.

Now Herriman wants one.

The school has filed a formal complaint with the UHSAA, requesting another hearing in front of the board of trustees panel that made the East and Timpview rulings on the programs' penalties for ineligible players. If the school isn't heard within the framework of the UHSAA, the complaint warns that the Herriman parents could pursue legal action.

Herriman's bone to pick is the seemingly dual nature of the rulings for the same offense: Timpview had to forfeit every game it played an ineligible player, and East forfeited only enough games to put it in a No. 4 seed.

The ruling directly affects the No. 1-seeded Mustangs, who could face East in the first round next Saturday if the Leopards top Mountain View in a Tuesday play-in game.

But the administrators and coaches at the school call the issue much bigger than a game. On Sunday night, the school staged a small gathering of a few dozen coaches, administrators, parents and players over their frustration with a ruling they feel shows the UHSAA's inconsistency on its most serious issues.

"It's a question of fairness and equities," Herriman principal Jim Birch said. "Such an arbitrary decision - where did that come from? Nobody can explain why fourth place, it has me at a loss."

Herriman was not alone. Coaches from Logan, Timpview, Timpanogos, Orem and Copper Hills came out in a show of solidarity against a ruling that is seen as having far-reaching implications.

Most at the gathering were in favor of either absolute: Timpview and East both forfeit all of their games, or they keep the No. 1 seeds they would've had before the ineligible players were discovered. The different standards in each case left a lot of them scratching their heads.

Orem coach Tyler Anderson got a benefit from the Timpview case: His team is now a No. 1 seed and region champion. But he still thinks the ruling isn't quite right.

"I thought this was a great opportunity for [the UHSAA] to stand up and say, 'If you get caught doing something wrong, you get penalized for it,'" Anderson said. "I bet every program across the state would've gotten their paperwork in order if they knew what the penalty was going to be."

The problem for Herriman and every other party dissatisfied with the situation is twofold. For one, the UHSAA doesn't have any further appeals left in its process. The only existing option is for the same panel to reconvene for new evidence.

The other obstacle is time: With East scheduled for a Tuesday play-in contest, there's only so much time left before the UHSAA's decision is set in stone.

As of late Sunday night, there was no plan for an official hearing.

"I would venture to guess that [the game] would happen," Birch said. "We were hoping, I guess, beyond hope that they would have the same sympathy on our kids that they had on East."

kgoon@sltrib.com

Twitter: @kylegoon