Tahlequah Daily Press

October 25, 2012

Sequoyah students ask court to overrule OSSAA

By JOSH NEWTON
Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — Two Sequoyah-Tahlequah students and high-school football players are asking a district judge to issue an order declaring them eligible to participate in Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association events.

Tera Meadors, the mother of Sequoyah student Tanner Sheets, filed a request late Wednesday through attorney Deanna Wales. Meadors and Sheets are both listed as plaintiffs in the case. On Thursday morning, a second petition was filed by Wales on behalf of Amy Woodruff, the mother of Dakota Karter Woodruff.

Sources said several other students and their parents are expected to file similar requests.

The petitions claim the OSSAA has determined Sheets, Woodruff and a number of other Sequoyah football players are ineligible. The students’ parents argue the OSSAA has provided no results of any investigation nor any basis for the determination of ineligibility. The parents believe the basis for the suspension is an allegation that Sheets, Woodruff and other players had camp tuition paid by Sequoyah School.

The petitions state there are only two football games left this season, and the students were expected to play in both. The OSSAA’s action is “collusive, unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious,” and the association’s rules are “unreasonable” and are perhaps not being enforced uniformly, the documents allege.

The students’ ineligibility to play football will cause them to lose the opportunity for a college football scholarship and affect their ability to obtain a college education, both complaints argue.

“[They] will not be able to obtain college football scholarships if [they] cannot play football during [their] senior year.”

The plaintiffs also argue OSSAA officials violated the due-process clause set out in the association’s own constitution and did not conduct an impartial investigation.

An administrative appeal is set for Nov. 8 in front of OSSAA officials, the court documents indicate, but that hearing would be after the last two games of the players’ football season.

The documents ask the court to grant a temporary restraining order or temporary injunction, as well as an order for a permanent injunction against the OSSAA’s enforcement of its ruling that the players are ineligible. They also ask the court to issue an order that Sheets and Woodruff are eligible to participate in OSSAA activities.

Associate District Judge Mark Dobbins was assigned the case, court records show, but his office said no hearing had been set on the request as of Thursday morning.