Dunbar doesn’t pursue injunction to overturn football forfeits

Dunbar High School and Dayton Public Schools did not seek an injunction on Tuesday to have two high school football forfeits overturned.

Dayton Public Schools spokesperson Jill Moberley confirmed that neither the school district nor Dunbar sought to have a court decision overturn a ruling by the Ohio High School Athletic Association that Dunbar forfeit Week 9-10 regular-season games because of an academic ineligible player.

Dubar football coach Darran Powell said on Monday a temporary restraining order might be sought. If so, it was hoped that could lead to Dunbar qualifying for the playoffs.

“If they had, I have no idea what grounds they would have tried to seek that on,” OHSAA director of media relations Tim Stried said Tuesday.

Instead of being 9-1 and headed to the Division IV, Region 16 playoffs, Dunbar instead finished 7-3 and out of the postseason. That allowed City League rival Belmont (7-2) to make the D-III, Region 12 playoffs for the second straight season. Also affected was Piqua, which was knocked out of the Region 12 field because of Belmont’s presence, and Cincinnati Princeton, which was dropped from D-II, Region 8 qualifiers.

DPS athletic director Mark Baker, Dunbar AD Pete Pullen and Powell did not return messages for comment.

Powell said he was told prior to last Friday’s game against Belmont at Welcome Stadium that the player in question was eligible to play, then informed at halftime the player was ineligible.

Baker said he contacted the OHSAA during the game to report a possible ineligible Dunbar player. Not only was the Week 10 game forfeited by Dunbar, but also a Week 9 game against Cincinnati Taft, which allowed the Senators into the D-IV, Region 16 field.

Students must pass the equivalency of five one-credit courses every grading period. Dunbar’s first-quarter grading period ended Oct. 13. There’s a five-day grace window afterward, meaning any player on academic watch would be OK to participate in a Week 8 game. The player also participated in Dunbar’s Week 9-10 games.

“What a lot of it boils down to is the people from the athletic department and even the school were confused as to not only had the (player) passed five one-credit classes, but when their grading period ended and what the grace period is after that,” Stried said. “All of those failed.”

Baker said preventive changes are being made so that won’t happen again to any City League teams.

“When we have the facts we’ll make them available,” Moberley said. “This matter is still under full investigation.”

Teams qualify for the playoffs based on a point system; Level 1 points for wins and Level 2 for wins by a defeated opponent. The top eight teams in each region advance to the postseason.

Dunbar was 9-1 on the field, losing only at Princeton in Week 3. Ironically, Princeton also was bounced from the D-II, Region 8 field because of Dunbar’s forfeits. Princeton, Piqua and Dunbar all finished No. 9 in their respective regions.

Had Dunbar succeeded in pursuing an injunction and been allowed into the playoffs, it would have had a monumental effect on many teams, some of which also could have been added to the playoffs and others that would have been realigned different seeds. That could have affected whether teams host first-round games or not.

“In tournament time, when you have anything, whether it’s weather or legal related that disrupts the flow of the tournament, it disrupts a lot,” Stried said. “We are pleased there was no legal pursuit on their end to delay the playoffs.”

First-round games for Divisions I, II, IV and VI begin at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Divisions III, V and VII open at 7 p.m. on Saturday.