09/20/16 – KHSAA Issues Rulings on Unsporting Acts and Shortened Games in Football

September 20, 2016 2016-2017 News Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 20, 2016

The KHSAA today issued sanctions regarding Bylaw 15 (Practice of Sportsmanship) violations from a pair of football contests, as well as final rulings concerning Bylaw 22 (Contests, Sanctions, Rules, Forfeitures) incidents from last weekend.

Per the KHSAA Competition Rules, when a contracted football game is interrupted by events beyond the control of all parties, three choices exist:
a) Terminate game with score as it exists;
b) Resume game at point of interruption at a mutually agreed date and time. This decision shall be finalized at the site prior to team departure.
c) Resume the game on the following calendar day, unless published Board policies prohibit such play, in which case it shall be played the following day.

On Friday, Sept. 16, a football game between Scott County HS and Lafayette HS was interrupted with 11:04 remaining in the 3rd quarter, with Scott County leading 25-20. In this instance, the two sides could not come to a mutually agreed upon decision. At a point in time, the home school administration determined that completing the game that night was not an option. Lafayette representatives, from the beginning, did not agree to a shortening of the game and Scott County was not amenable to re-scheduling due to a variety of conflicts for its team members in the upcoming days and a lack of unfettered access to its game facility.

As the two teams were playing under a signed game contract, Scott County violated its contract with Lafayette when it indicated it would not resume the contest in compliance with the competition rules. Therefore, despite being ahead on the scoreboard at the time of the interruption, the result will be recorded as a 1-0 victory for Lafayette per the forfeit provisions of the NFHS rules. All individual and team game statistics will be counted for both schools.

Similarly that same night, a football contest between Bryan Station and Meade County was interrupted with Bryan Station leading 7-6. During the weather related interruption, both teams determined that completing the game that night was not an option. The two schools did not agree to a shortening of the game, instead agreeing to attempt to resume the game on Saturday night at 6 p.m. Subsequent to that time, Meade County school and district officials declined to return to complete the game due to continued weather and travel concerns.

Due to the failure to return to complete the contest, the final score will be recorded as Bryan Station 7, Meade County 6, as it stood at the point of interruption. All individual and team game statistics will be counted for both schools.

“It is unfortunate that these situations were not resolved in a satisfactory manner for all parties involved,” said KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett. “Thankfully, all administrators were ever mindful of player, coach, official and spectator safety in making the decision not to play on that night.”

In addition, the KHSAA today published the final rulings and sanctions regarding Bylaw 15 violations from football contests between Lafayette and Paul Laurence Dunbar, and McLean County and Crittenden County, both of which involved an inability to control a participating team’s sideline and nonplayers. In these cases, Lafayette and McLean County had multiple members of their squads leave the bench and come onto the playing field during a fight.

KHSAA policies and procedures permit the use of video replay at the discretion of the Commission and in compliance with NFHS playing rules in a situation involving a fight, physical confrontation or ejection where the circumstances are potentially unable to be accurately observed and reported by the game officials, and where either the member school or official has requested such review. This could include identifying individuals that were not previously identified, correcting number/names of incorrectly identified individuals, identifying individuals, including nonplayers or substitutes, who enter the playing area in an altercation, or assessing different levels of involvement in the incident for the purpose of administrative action. The policy does not allow review of judgement calls by officials.

On Aug. 19, in a game between Lafayette and Paul Laurence Dunbar, an unsporting situation developed when a tackle made near the sidelines escalated into a fight on the Dunbar sideline. At this point in the altercation, several players from the Lafayette bench left the bench area, most of them making their way to the Dunbar sideline. As few as twelve, and as many as fifteen players, left the Lafayette bench during this incident and proceeded to the Paul Dunbar sideline before the incident was finally brought under control.

During the video review, it was determined that the coaching staffs from both schools could have done much more to keep the situation from escalating to the point where it placed all of those involved in jeopardy.

On Sept. 2, in a game between McLean County and Crittenden County, a situation occurred following a tackle made near the Crittenden sideline that escalated into unsporting acts by two McLean County players. In reviewing video of the incident, members of the coaching staff at McLean County, as confirmed by their Athletic Director, are seen entering the field followed by several players. While the action may have began as an effort to keep others from getting involved, the situation quickly escalated into a display of unsporting conduct by the McLean head coach that clearly does not appear to be intended to de-escalate the situation. The subsequent animated discussion between the McLean head coach and a Crittenden assistant resulted in the game officials ejecting the Crittenden County assistant, but taking no other action.

During this situation, several players from the McLean County bench left the bench area, most of them making their way to the Crittenden County sideline. As few as fourteen, and as many as nineteen players, left the McLean County bench during this incident and proceeded to the Crittenden County sideline before the incident was finally brought under control.

In each case, though their degree of involvement varied, each person that left the sideline area violated NFHS playing rules by leaving the bench during the incidents. It is indisputable that several players violated this provision in both cases.

“In both situations, it is apparent that coaches fell short in their efforts to instill into their students that there are absolutely no circumstances under which it is permissible to leave the sideline during a confrontation,” said Tackett. “The game of football is a game fraught with potential for physical confrontation, but this can be managed if the adults involved, including the officials managing the twenty-two players in the game and the coaches managing all of the nonplayers on the sideline, aggressively perform their responsibilities. Clearly, these situations were not handled in the best manner by all adults involved.”

Upon review of these situations, the Commissioner has handed down the following penalties:

Lafayette vs. Paul Laurence Dunbar:

  • The KHSAA will reverse the ejection of Lafayette player number 50 who was misidentified, and instead, suspend for one game, the appropriate individual (Lafayette 23). The other ejected student-athletes will be handled through the normal ejection protocol and administered a one-game penalty.
  • The KHSAA will accept the school-imposed sanction of Lafayette Head Coach Eric Shaw for the failure to control the bench personnel (nonplayers) on his sideline.
  • The KHSAA will accept the penalties imposed by the school against the identified Lafayette nonplayers who left the bench during the altercation, in which the school penalized each student with a one-game suspension.
  • The coaching staff at Paul Laurence Dunbar is issued a WARNING pursuant to Bylaw 27 and encouraged to both develop, and practice, staff protocols to prevent recurrence, and are placed on notice that any further violations of Bylaw 15 by these squads will result in penalties per Bylaw 27.
  • If will be recommended to the schools that the coaching staffs at both schools be compelled to complete the NFHSLearn.com course entitled “Teaching and Modeling Behavior” prior to postseason play to reinforce the requirements for managing student-athlete groups.
  • The Principals at both Lafayette and Paul Laurence Dunbar (in conjunction with administration of the Fayette County Schools) shall conduct a comprehensive review of sportsmanship expectations within the athletic program and shall report to the Association on the completion of this task.
  • The Principals at both Lafayette and Paul Laurence Dunbar shall review game management practices and determine changes necessary to prevent recurrence of this type of situation as well as ensuring the proper recording of all games played at their home facilities. The complete parameters for the recording of football contests are contained in the KHSAA competition rules.
  • A maximum fine of $12,000 to $15,000 (depending upon the number of identified nonplayers who left the bench) at $1,000 per incident could have been imposed. However, it is critical that the KHSAA recognize the aggressive and strong steps taken by its membership. In this case, Lafayette and the Fayette County Schools were very quick and decisive in their review and sanctions. This certainly mitigates and lessens the need for further penalty. In that light, a $1500 fine is assessed against the football program at Lafayette High School for violations of Bylaw 15 for the nonplayers (uniformed players who were not in the game at the time) who left the bench area during the altercation.

McLean County vs. Crittenden County:

  • The ejected student-athletes are to be administered through the normal ejection protocol and administered a one-game penalty, and the ejected coach will be handled through the normal ejection protocol and administered a two-game penalty per Bylaw 15 and Bylaw 21.
  • The KHSAA will accept the school-imposed penalties against the seventeen (17) identified McLean County nonplayers who left the bench during the altercation, in which the school penalized each student with a one-week suspension from all levels of play.
  • All coaches at McLean County will be required to complete the NFHSLearn.com course entitled “Teaching and Modeling Behavior” prior to week nine of regular season play in 2016, to reinforce the requirements for managing student-athlete groups. Failure to complete the course and have completion documented to the KHSAA will result in immediate suspension from contests until such completion has been verified.
  • The Principal at McLean County shall conduct a comprehensive review of sportsmanship expectations within the athletic program and shall report to the Association on the completion of this task.
  • The Principals at both schools shall review all game management practices and determine any changes necessary to prevent recurrence of this type of situation, as well as ensuring the proper recording of all games played at their home facilities. The complete parameters for the recording of football contests are contained in the KHSAA competition rules.
  • A maximum fine of $14,000 to $19,000 (depending upon the number of identified nonplayers who left the bench) at $1,000 per incident could have been imposed. However, it is critical that the KHSAA recognize the aggressive and strong steps taken by its membership. In this case, the administration at McLean County was quick and decisive in their review and their willingness to administer proper sanction and allow the program to move forward. This certainly mitigates and lessens the need for further extensive penalty. In that light, a $1300 fine is assessed against the football program at McLean County High School for violations of Bylaw 15 for the nonplayers (uniformed players who were not in the game at the time) who left the bench area during the altercation.

The KHSAA will have no further comment on these rulings. All inquiries should be directed to school administrators at the local level.

-KHSAA-

About the Kentucky High School Athletic Association
The Kentucky High School Athletic Association was organized in 1917 and is the agency designated by the Kentucky Department of Education to manage high school athletics in the Commonwealth. The Association is a voluntary nonprofit 501(c)3 organization made up of 278 member schools both public and private. The KHSAA sanctions 43 state championships in 13 sports and 4 sport-activities, licenses and trains over 4,000 officials, provides catastrophic insurance for its more than 70,000 member school student-athletes, as well as overseeing coaching education and sports safety programs.

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