Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Prep football: East awaits ruling on eligibility
Prep football » Leopards holding breath as UHSAA works on eligibility ruling.
First Published Oct 17 2012 11:00 pm • Last Updated Feb 07 2013 11:31 pm

Wednesday evening brought no assurances that the East football team would be able to participate in the postseason.

The Utah High School Activities Association had reached a "tentative decision" by Wednesday afternoon on how the Leopards will be punished for ineligible players on their roster that were discovered last week.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

But as of late that night, the UHSAA had not told anyone what that decision was as it worked on an official written version. Association legal counsel Mark Van Wagoner expected the announcement would come Thursday morning.

Meanwhile, the Leopards were held in limbo, enduring a 51-34 loss to Logan on the road and wondering if it would be the end of their season.

East principal Paul Sagers said he saw a team that had been exhausted by the week’s events.

"These are just kids who feel like they don’t have anybody in their corner," Sagers said. "I think everybody’s mentally wiped."

East, the No. 1-ranked team in Class 4A, has been on the defensive since last week, when it first came to light that the team had an ineligible player. After getting handed a fine and a suspension for coach Brandon Matich, the school learned of three more players who were ineligible, one of whom was starting right tackle Tennessee Suesue.

The school presented its case Tuesday to the Region 6 principals, taking care to outline the subtleties of each transfer. The mistakes, they said, were clerical mistakes caused by some confusion about new state rules. The region handed down serious sanctions, including probation, a $1,500 fine and another two-game suspension for Matich, but no forfeits.

The UHSAA convened a special subset of its executive committee Wednesday morning to hear the case, which East reiterated.

The dilemma for the UHSAA is an ineligible player case that arose out of Region 8. Timpview was forced to vacate its region wins and title from the 2011 season after it reported a player living in Provo boundaries had never filed paperwork for eligibility. The player now is eligible, but the state has the charge to either reconcile the differing region rulings or explain why they’re different.

story continues below
story continues below

"I would hope that they have a good reason for taking as long as they did," Sagers said. "I know a lot of folks in that room, and they’re good people. They’re probably taking time to have a good rationale."

The school’s presentation included a case-by-case explanation of the confusion by athletic director Kathy Butler, who was in charge of determining eligibility. Butler concluded her testimony by saying she was going to resign, ending a 35-year career during which she was named athletic director of the year.

Matich showed great emotion as he talked about each player, breaking down near the end of his statement. Region 6 chair John Haning, the principal at Woods Cross, defended his region’s decision.

"If a coach, administrator or athletic director makes a mistake, that’s who should be punished," Haning said. "Our region will sway in the direction of supporting kids."

The closed deliberations on the cases for East and Timpview lasted several hours to roughly 3 p.m., before the committee said it had reached the tentative ruling.

Timpview also reported an additional ineligible player on the current roster after an internal audit, saying that the player in question had incorrectly filled out his paperwork. The athlete had played limited minutes in two preseason games and one region game. Region 8 declared the player ineligible for the rest of the year, fined Timpview and set aside the possibility of probation for future violations.

kgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.