Shawnee coach Rick Meeks tries to get his players fired up during Friday's game against Kenton Ridge. Bill Lackey/Staff
Photo: Bill Lackey
Photo: Bill Lackey

Shawnee must forfeit 5 football games

School administrators reported a suspected residency violation to the Ohio High School Athletic Association last November. The OHSAA announced the penalty to school officials Wednesday morning.

Neither Shawnee athletic director Craig Isaac nor head football coach Rick Meeks would confirm the player’s identity.

“Some of this was an administration error,” Isaac said. “There were certain documents that were not in the student athlete’s folder that needed to be there. Since this has occurred, the student no long attends Shawnee High School.”

The OHSAA will release a statement about Shawnee’s violation and penalty following today’s Board of Directors meeting. None of the OHSAA commissioners would address Shawnee’s violation/forfeitures prior to then.

The penalty affects the first half of the regular season.

None of the Shawnee coaches or administrators is expected to be cited for personal violations. Meeks said he’ll remain as the Braves’ head coach.

Shawnee was 10-2 last season after being 9-0. The Braves defeated Wakaponeta 41-34 in overtime in the first round of the Division III, Region 10 playoffs. Shawnee was eliminated 44-7 by eventual state runner-up Trotwood-Madison in the next round.

The forfeited games were all non-league, meaning Shawnee’s 4-1 record over the second half of the regular season — all Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Division contests — will stand. So will all-conference selections and stats. Historically, the Braves will be branded with a 5-7 record.

Teams that Shawnee beat in those affected five games — Catholic Central, Troy, Carroll, Northwestern and Greenon — will be awarded 1-0 forfeit wins.

Both Isaac and Meeks said there was deception about the residency of the player in question. Also, OHSAA athletic-eligibility approval did not exist.

“We were made aware that the student may be living in a place that was not in our records,” Isaac said. “We did an investigation. Through that we realized that we had not received confirmation from the OHSAA about his eligibility. That’s the administrative error. We should have inquired about the existence of that document.”

The Clark-Shawnee Local Schools acknowledged the deception in a press release:

“At some point either before or during the season, the student did not reside in the District, and the student’s family had unfortunately provided residency documentation for the District that was not accurate,” the statement read in part.

Isaac said he had contacted all the CBC school administrators and the teams that Shawnee forfeited to and “expressed our sadness, regret and mistakes.”

Had the forfeitures been ruled upon in the regular season, Shawnee would not have qualified for the playoffs. Only the top eight teams in each region in Divisions II-VII qualify. Shawnee was No. 6. New Richmond was the No. 9 team and might have replaced Shawnee in the playoffs had the offense surfaced earlier.

Meeks was adamant that Shawnee officials didn’t try to cover up a falsification of residency.

“You’d never do anything like that intentionally because, wow, it’s not worth it,” he said. “It would never be worth whatever it is that we’re going through now. … We know that we always try to do things with honor and integrity.”

Isaac said Shawnee also reported a possible rules violation two years ago that involved baseball players.

“We try to make certain that mistake never happens again,” he said. “The awareness within our community, our coaches, our athletes knowing that residency is huge. You’ve just got to double cross your T’s and dot your I’s and ensure that you’ve covered everything before students can participate.”

Springfield High School’s football team was 1-9 last season and received its only win by forfeit. Trotwood was ruled by the OHSAA to have used an academically ineligible player against Springfield in the opener, which it forfeited 1-0.

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