Both the Spanish Fort boys and girls soccer teams will miss this week’s Class 6A state playoffs due to an eligibility issue on both teams.
Baldwin County Superintendent Eddie Tyler called the situation “unfortunate” in a letter received by AL.com on Wednesday afternoon.
Tyler said he made a verbal appeal on the phone to Alabama High School Athletic Association executive director Alvin Briggs, but he said the AHSAA feels “very confident in the position they have taken and are unable to reconsider under their current rules.”
Here is Tyler’s complete statement on the situation:
Over the last few days, our Spanish Fort High School athletic program has been dealing with some very unfortunate news. The Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) has determined both the boys’ and girls’ varsity soccer teams are ineligible to compete in the State playoffs. Upon learning of this decision from AHSAA yesterday regarding the boys’ varsity team, I spoke with AHSAA to make an appeal regarding AHSAA’s decision. My letter to AHSAA yesterday stating that we would honor AHSAA’s finding and decision followed that conversation. After receiving information about the girls’ varsity soccer team, I again called AHSAA, to make an appeal that they reverse the decision. Unfortunately, AHSAA’s decision is final.
AHSAA is the governing body by which all middle school and high school programs in Alabama are regulated. In this particular instance, the decision regarding eligibility comes down to a family with players on both the girls’ and boys’ teams who relocated here from another state. Under AHSAA rules, the entire family must have moved at the same time from an out-of-state location to an in-state location. Because the family did not all move at the same time, AHSAA has determined that all children in that family are ineligible for varsity competition. Since those children competed in the regular season, it now renders each of those games a forfeit under AHSAA rules.
We were aware of the move from out of state and engaged AHSAA earlier in the season to inquire about this specific concern. We were told by AHSAA that the male student was eligible to participate. At some point in the season, a complaint came to AHSAA from a third party and upon further investigation, AHSAA found additional information which they felt made all children in the family ineligible. After informing us of such determination, it was made clear that all games would be forfeited and the system would face significant fines should we refuse to comply with their decisions.
This is a very unfortunate situation. My heart hurts for the dozens of families and children who have competed and participated in the season, fully expecting to be part of the state championship process. I have made my feelings known to the administration of AHSAA in asking them to consider our situation under appeal. They feel very confident in the position they have taken and are unable to reconsider under their current rules.
The Spanish Fort girls were scheduled to play at Paul’s on Thursday night. Gulf Shores will now play at Paul’s. The Spanish Fort boys won Area 2 and would have hosted Paul’s in the first round. Instead, Robertsdale moves up to the No. 1 seed from that area and Gulf Shores gets the No. 1 seed 2 slot.
On Tuesday, Baldwin County Circuit Judge Scott P. Taylor issued a temporary restraining order that could have allowed the boys soccer team to compete. However, Tyler later sent an e-mail to Briggs later in the day saying the Spanish Fort boys would follow the AHSAA decision and not play. The Spanish Fort girls situation developed Wednesday.
Mobile attorney David Allen filed a complaint against Alvin Briggs on Sunday. The suit, on behalf of parent Kerry DeFelippo, alleged that son Anthony DeFelippo had been declared ineligible this week after being originally declared eligible by an AHSAA staff member last month.
The suit asked for a restraining order, re-instating DeFelippo’s eligibility and allowing Spanish Fort to play in the postseason. Taylor granted that stay without a hearing Tuesday morning. A court date in the case is scheduled for Tuesday — after the first round of the playoffs.