Stinson: Tough call not always the right one

First Posted: 11/17/2009

This has not been a good year for the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, especially in this part of the state.
From having one of its football officiating crews botch the ending of the Purnell Swett-Pinecrest game to ruling on the eligibility of a Terry Sanford player.
The NCHSAA is normally out of the picture when it comes to controversy. Other than an occasional change of playoff seedings, the NCHSAA flies under the radar.
It shouldn’t have to worry about having officials stand over a football for what seeming felt like hours as a team is attempting to snap the ball at the end of a game. Even though it is their job to rule if a team can participate in the playoffs because it used an ineligible player, it should have been brought to light long before the playoffs were set to begin.
The NCHSAA was right to force Terry Sanford to forfeit its playoff game to Pine Forest because of questions surrounding the eligibility of players. When the story broke the principal was being suspended for changing grades, even though, it appeared no athletes were going to be involved in the investigation, odds said different.
It is difficult to penalize the entire team because of the eligibility of just one player or even two. However, if the player in question is the star quarterback or running back, then the team’s success rides on that player’s shoulders.
While it is understandable for the NCHSAA to want to send a team to the sidelines, there are times when you have to scratch your head at some of its actions.
Two years ago, the NCHSAA ruled that South Mecklenburg had to forfeit its entire football season just as the team was boarding buses to head to its first game of the playoffs. The reason was South Meck’s quarterback was ineligible to play because he was living with his grandparents and not his parents. His parents moved to Wilmington because the father took a job there and his son wanted to stay in Charlotte and graduate with this friends.
The family did everything by the book according to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School system, but not in the eyes of the NCHSAA. According to the NCHSAA, this situation was not allowed because his grandparents were not his legal guardians.
This type of situation occurs quite often when a player lives in a district where their home school’s football, basketball, soccer, baseball or whatever sports team is not as good as one just down the road, but suddenly moves to the better school’s district. But in the case of the South Mecklenburg player, he wanted to be with friends, not improve his chances to get noticed by college scouts.
The NCHSAA has a difficult job, but like the NCAA, sometimes its decision is not always the right call.