Judge Rules in Favor of WIAA in Member School’s Forfeited Season Case

October 18, 2022 / Athletic AdministrationCoaching
A Wisconsin state judge has sided with the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) this week and will not grant a temporary restraining order filed by a local high school against the athletics organization.

Amherst High School filed legal action after the WIAA ruled the football team must forfeit its six wins related to an ineligible player who was participating in his fifth year of high school athletics.

wiaaA recent report from NBC15.com detailed the lawsuit and the decision by the Wisconsin judge. Below is an excerpt from the NBC15.com story.

Amherst argued that “common sense” was the idea that the ineligible player did not contribute to the victories of each game.

“To take away the three games that we won handily, shutouts, and to make us forfeit the entire season is way above and beyond,” says Mike Richie, District Administrator. “We call it the death penalty and that’s exactly what happened.”

Judge Zell called the situation unfortunate and troubling. The Falcons are ineligible for the playoffs due to the violation.

“It is a difficult decision for everyone. But looking at the law that the court must apply here today, it’s the only conclusion the court can reach,” said Judge Zell.

On Oct. 10 the WIAA received an anonymous tip that one of Amherst’s players had played high school football when he was in 8th grade. WIAA rules state that players only have 8 semesters of eligibility. On Oct. 13, the WIAA Board of Control ruled by a 9-0 vote to uphold its decision that the Amherst High School football program must forfeit all six of its 2022 season victories leaving the team 0-8 and ineligible for the playoffs.

“I don’t know why we are in this situation,” Zell explained in court Monday before issuing his decision.

Zell said there is a member agreement and the member schools have to abide by those rules. He said while Amherst wanted this case to be an ‘us vs. them’ situation, he said this is really an ‘us vs. us’ situation. He said it is up to the member schools to police the rules as the WIAA does not have the staff to do that.

With the ruling in place, Amherst will require the athletic director to do a thorough background check for any transfer students.

All to ensure an issue like this never happens again.

“Every athletic director’s gonna have to go back and question ‘did you play high school sports prior to your ninth-grade year in high school’,” says Richie. “Or did you attend two years of your freshman year of high school or any year?”

To read the full story from NBC15.com about the WIAA lawsuit involving a member school, click here.