AUGUSTA – The appeal of three forfeited games by the Jay girls’ basketball team was denied Wednesday.

Jay Principal John Robinson and Assistant Principal and Athletic Director Kenric Charles made a brief presentation to members of the Interscholastic Management Committee at the Maine Principals’ Association’s conference center Wednesday afternoon. After hearing the appeal and taking time for a brief discussion, the appeal was rejected.

“I thought we might have a little different outcome, but that’s the way it goes,” said Robinson. “I understand what they’re doing. It doesn’t mean I have to like it, but I understand.”

The Tigers forfeit December wins against Mt. Abram, Lisbon and Carrabec because of the use of an ineligible player. Jay is currently 9-6 and sixth in the Western C standings. Without the forfeits, the Tigers would be 12-3 and ranked third.

“I’m disappointed, but I respect it,” Charles told the committee following its decision.

The forfeits not only effect Jay’s standing but also the status of Mt. Abram and Lisbon. Mt Abram is fourth at 10-6 but would be sixth at 9-7 had the forfeits not been upheld. Lisbon is 7-8 and eighth in Western B but would be ninth at 6-9 without the forfeits.

“In our hearts, we understand the situation that you’re in,” Gardiner Principal Chad Kempton told the Jay contingent. “Looking at the larger picture and the volume of issues the MPA and this committee deals with, we need to stay consistent with the policy that we establish.”

MPA Executive Director Dick Durost said that because the policy on using an eligible player is so cut-and-dried, there is little recourse for a school that discovers such a violation. Though schools don’t typically play ineligible athletes on purpose, the committee has to remain consistent in upholding its standards.

“It’s unfortunate, but it does happen eight to 10 times a year,” said Durost. “We can say that we understand and we feel for you, but the rule has been violated and in fairness to everyone else, the consequences are pretty clear cut.”

The eligibility of a player came into question during the Christmas break. Because of personal circumstances, the athlete was enrolled on a part-time basis. She had taken three classes in the first quarter of the year and was up to four classes when the eligibility issue came into question. Students are required to sign up for six classes at Jay, unless given approval by the principal. Students must also pass five classes to be eligible to compete in athletics. Because student grades are often watched for failing grades to determine eligibility, the fact that this student didn’t have enough classes avoided detection because she had no failing grades. Despite the oversight, Jay argued that the school was doing what was best for the student and a team didn’t deserve punishment for that mistake.

“The student in question was carrying a principal- approved course of study, was on line to graduate in the standard four years, had never failed a course, and, who, in fact, had made the honor roll at Jay High School on a couple of occasions,” said a prepared document presented to the committee. “She was carrying this reduced schedule due to personal commitments at home.”

Jay administrators argued that they felt the eligibility rule was misapplied in this case, and that the spirit of its intent should not apply given the admirable performance of the athlete. The student had exceeded all academic obligations with regards to graduation.

“I don’t think it fits this situation,” said Charles. “I think at the time that she played, she was a full-time enrolled student but the preceding quarter, she wasn’t.”

Charles also argued that students now finished with required courses for graduation are deemed eligible, even though they are not currently enrolled in classes.

Robinson also stated that he had been involved in an appeal with the MPA’s Eligibility Committee in regards to a student transfer while at another school.

“The school determined that due to special circumstances involving the student and being a new student to the school, he should be eligible immediately and the Eligibility Committee concurred. Could not we have made the same determination?” Robinson wrote in his appeal.

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