High school football: UHSAA overturns ruling; East will make playoffs as fourth seed, Timpview forfeits stand
"This is not about East, Timpview or Logan," said Logan head coach Mike Favero. "This is about the future and integrity of high school sports I believe every school should follow the same rules, and I believe there has to be some integrity in the tournament, and to have that there has to be transparency, consistency and accountability."
He wasn't the only coach struggling with why Region 6 was treated differently than Region 8. Because Timpview was forced to forfeit all of the games in which their ineligible player participated, two teams were eliminated from a play-in game that was scheduled for Saturday. A three-way tie between Mountain View, Salem Hills and Springville was broken by Timpview's forfeit to Mountain View so the Bruins get that fifth and final spot in the playoffs.
The Bruins will host the Leopards in a play-in game on Tuesday.
Springville head coach Willy Child said they were prepared to be eliminated from the tournament because of Timpview's punishment, but they weren't prepared to be treated differently.
"I feel bad for our kids," he said. "I feel bad for Salem's kids I felt bad for East's kids, but now they get to play We left that meeting understanding there was a chance that we wouldn't get to play because of the forfeits. If that happened, we'd have been upset, but we'd probably have understood it. Now we don't even understand it."
Van Wagoner said the panel members worked for more than an hour trying to find a way to allow all three of those tied for fifth place to enter the tournament, but they could not find a way.
Cyprus coach Scott Wooldridge was just heading out to practice with his team when he was informed by the athletic director that the Pirates would not be playing on Tuesday.
"I'm new to this," said Wooldridge, who came to Utah after coaching in Idaho. "But I've never seen anything like it. I think the process is very much flawed. It's affected my team. I don't understand how they don't forfeit to us, but they forfeit to everybody else."
All of the coaches feel for the East players and the situation they were in once the ineligibility issues came to light. But many of the coaches and administrators at affected schools wondered why their students didn't elicit as much sympathy.
Van Wagoner will issue a written decision, likely this weekend. He said it wasn't sentiment that swayed the panel, but the argument that more than 100 innocent young men would pay for the mistake of a few adults.
It was Matich who made that case most passionately in the two-hour hearing.
"This process has brought me to my knees," said an emotional Matich. "I still get to coach a lot of football games, but for these boys, they don't get this moment back. I'm begging you. Please see this for what it is — an innocent error for which these boys shouldn't be punished. This wasn't done maliciously or with blatant disregard for the rules."
When asked if the rulings were fair, Cuff said that is difficult to determine because each case is so different.
"I think deliberation is an important thing," said Cuff. "These board members take a lot of time in trying to evaluate the information they have We've never had a precedent where the team has missed the playoff spot as a result. The three game suspension of the head coach is important; this is all about adults, in a lot of ways."
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