Reigning NYSPHSAA Champion Football Team Forfeits Wins Due To Clerical Error

October 17, 2022 / Athletic AdministrationCoachingFootball
A New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) reigning champion football team is forced to forfeit all of its wins this season due to a clerical error.

Bennett High School is the reigning NYSPHAA AA champion and is the highest-ranked team in western New York in the state’s largest classification. The team was forced to forfeit all of its wins after the NYSHPAA Section VI governing body found the Tigers to have used an ineligible player in its first six games.

nysphsaaAdditionally, Bennett head coach Steve McDuffie was suspended from their previous game, due to NYSPHSAA rules stemming from a procedural error regarding transfer paperwork for a freshman player on the Bennett varsity team.

A recent report from outlined the details of the forfeiture and suspension of the Bennett Tigers football team.

Below is an excerpt from the story.

“It’s very disappointing to learn that an entire team will be punished for a clerical error,” Michael House, assistant superintendent of athletics for Buffalo Public Schools said. “There was nothing unethical about this. This is a bona fide student at Lewis J. Bennett High School who lives in the City of Buffalo. Our coach, Steve McDuffie, is doing a great job. It’s very unfair that children are being punished in this way. It should be all about the students in the classroom and on the field. Not about procedural or clerical errors.”

Parents question why the league imposed the penalty this late in the season. They also say punishing the entire team over a clerical error involving one student-athlete is unfair.

“Why did they wait until they were winning? They beat Clarence, they beat Orchard Park and they beat Lancaster,” Jackie Stepney, grandparent of a Bennett football player, said.

Friday night marked Senior Night for the Bennett Tigers, but some parents say it was disappointing that the news had to come out this week.

“My thought was why would they do that on Senior Night? If y’all knew this was going on, do it before this,” Dawn Miller, Bennett Football parent, added.

Philip Rumore, president of the Buffalo Teachers Federation, criticized Section VI and called for “a thorough investigation of a procedure that harshly punishes innocent victims and examples of the same punishments for the same infractions,” in an emailed statement.

“Yes, rules are rules,” Rumore stated. “However, considering the impact on the students on the football team and how the student who unknowingly was involved must feel, there should be a full investigation of when Section VI was notified, who notified them, how long it took to investigate this issue, etc.”

To read the full story from about the Bennett football team having its wins forfeited by the NYSPHSAA, click here.