High School Sports

Feb 7, 2013 11:05 AM

Sanctions Placed On Louisville Holy Cross Football Program

The Kentucky High School Athletic Association fined Louisville Holy Cross High School and imposed other sanctions on its football program for violating recruiting/enrollment rules.

KHSAA officials say Holy Cross violated Bylaw 10 when football staffers entered two non-enrolled students (public school students at a non-feeder school) into school-based weightlifting competition and activities.

"Members of our new coaching staff involuntarily, and unknowingly, violated bylaw 10 from the KHSAA handbook," Holy Cross athletic director Jody Thornsberry said. "Once the violation was brought to our attention, we immediately took the necessary steps to work with the KHSAA and rectify the situation."

During its investigation, KHSAA officials determined that the staff at Holy Cross misapplied or misinterpreted provisions of Bylaws 4 and 10 as it pertains to non-enrolled students. HCHS incorrectly determined that non-enrolled students who took the school entrance exam were considered part of the "feeder" pattern of the school as it relates the bylaws, and all restrictions on participation would therefore be moot. While this completion of testing and elements of the application process allows for the administration to respond to communication requests for non-athletic information, etc., it does not allow for participation or sport-specific activity. Bylaw 10 stipulates that until officially enrolled at a specific member school (and no longer enrolled in a non-feeder pattern school) a student can not represent that member school in athletic activity.

The school self-imposed several sanctions including suspending head coach Todd Crumbacker and other involved coaches from the first five spring football practice sessions in 2013; placing restrictions on attendance at events in nearby counties; and implementing required policy and training requirements for all coaches at the school.

Based on its findings, the KHSAA elected to hand down the following additional penalties on Holy Cross:

- Prior to the 2013-14 school year, HCHS shall submit written acknowledgement from each coach that the newly revised and KHSAA-approved Coaches Handbook has been reviewed by each coach and the expectations for compliance have been acknowledged.

- The football program at HCHS was placed on PROBATION and will remain on probation through the remainder of the 2013 season. The probation does not reduce the schedule or playoff opportunities for the team, but serves as official notice regarding further penalties if there are any violations within the program.

- HCHS was also issued an administrative FINE in the amount of $500 for this specific violation of Bylaw 10.

"As Commissioner, it is never easy to place sanctions on a school and potentially penalize young people, their families and school communities," KHSAA commissioner Julian Tackett said. "However, the violations that have occurred are serious in nature and our member schools expect this office to investigate and administer the appropriate penalties that are prescribed in our bylaws when we have credible, detailed information."

Tackett praised Holy Cross administrators and coaches for their cooperation during the investigation.

"Even in areas where there was the potential for additional violations, but no proof that they had occurred, the administration was proactive in taking steps to eliminate opportunities where violations could be perceived. That leadership and the steps and penalties implemented will hopefully mean that they can successfully prevent recurrence even and especially in cases where they have personnel turnover," he said.

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