JAY- It was not what the Jay girls’ basketball team wanted for Christmas.

Because of the use of an ineligible player, the Tigers will likely forfeit three wins and drop significantly in the Western Maine Class C Heal Point standings.

“Nothing’s been finalized, but we think we might have to forfeit three games,” said Jay athletic director Kenric Charles.

Jay was ranked third in the latest standings and went to 6-1 after Tuesday’s win over Boothbay, but December wins over Mt. Abram, Lisbon and Carrabec are expected to be forfeited.

“We worked so hard to get to the record that we had,” said coach Chris Bessey, who informed his team Tuesday after school to give them time to recover before that evening’s game. “We had a very good win up at Mt. Abram. It was probably one of our best games of the year. To have it taken away for a very poor reason and for something out of our control was very disappointing.”

The school filed an appeal with the Maine Principals’ Association and asked to be on the agenda at a Jan. 31 meeting of the Interscholastic Management Committee.

Such appeals have not been successful in the past. The MPA’s Executive Director Dick Durost says that schools are welcome to have a chance to plead their case, but must be aware that because the policy is so clear cut, that appeals don’t typically sway the committee away from the policy.

The St. Dom’s boys’ soccer team attempted to appeal the loss of six games to forfeit in 2003. A non-starter who transferred to the school was deemed ineligible because the proper paperwork had not been submitted. St. Dom’s argued that the team should not be penalized for the mistake of the school, but that appeal was denied.

“To not follow through on that policy, then there’s no sense to have it in place if it is not going to be adhered to,” Durost said at that time.

Durost said Wednesday that schools don’t typically play ineligible players on purpose but a lack of intention won’t likely create a cause for overriding policy.

“Fortunately this was discovered in late December instead of early February,” said Durost.

Over the Christmas break, the eligibility of a senior came into question. Because of circumstances, she is enrolled on a limited basis. She was attempting to participate on the basketball team after missing last year. Charles confirmed with Durost Tuesday that the athlete was not eligible.

“She does not meet all the credentials of participation to be eligible,” said Charles, who said because she was not a full-time student, she could not be eligible. “So I guess we get our hand slapped for it.”

Charles argues the part-time situation is for the benefit of the student and that should be taken into consideration.

“It’s a school-approved program and the kid is on track to graduate with her class,” said Charles.

Jay discovered the potential problem last week and reported it to the MPA after the holiday break.

“We have to commend Jay High School for doing the right thing,” said Durost. “The school did the right thing when they first became aware of this issue, and that’s what we expect our members to do.”

Bessey expects his club to still be a playoff team.

It doesn’t ease the frustration of his players or help them understand how three wins were taken away and one player is ineligible for the rest of the year. Bessey said one player summed it up best when she said, in tears, “I don’t understand.”

“There’s nothing you can say to help them understand.” said Bessey. “It’s just a shame.”

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