Tahlequah Daily Press

October 28, 2013

SHS admin responds to Smith


TAHLEQUAH — Editor, Daily Press:

In reading the letter to the editor by Chad Smith concerning the OSSAA and Sequoyah High School, I felt it was necessary to let our students and community know the complete story.

Smith’s client was a senior, played one sport (football) and had plans to leave Sequoyah High School in December of his final year. That student was discovered to be ineligible for the entire season for a reason unrelated to football camps. That violation was discovered by OSSAA shortly before the reinstatement hearing. Even if all camp issues had been resolved, the season was lost due this other violation. This matter was discussed in an open OSSAA board meeting at the reinstatement hearing on Nov. 7, 2012.

Smith’s only concern and responsibility were to his one and only client. Sequoyah High School did not have that luxury. Our concerns were always for every student who was affected or potentially affected by sanctions against Sequoyah. We will always be committed to what is best for the entire student body, not only a single individual.

Sequoyah had to look at the interest of all students, young men and women who played all sports. The OSSAA had evidence of myriad of violations that were allowed under the previous Cherokee Nation and Sequoyah administrations that could have resulted in Sequoyah being kicked out of the OSSAA. This, in fact, would have been a “death penalty” for Sequoyah High School sports. It would have meant scores of young men and women could not have fulfilled their dream of competing on the field of play, winning games or championships, even if those students committed no violations in their respective sports. A death penalty would have been catastrophic to our student body. Innocent students would have been stripped of playing the sports they love and deprived of athletic scholarships that would have allowed them a path to higher education.  

In the face of that terrible situation, we acted quickly and did what was best for all Sequoyah students: We accepted certain penalties from the OSSAA and avoided the death penalty for all sports. Had we not, OSSAA would have ended Sequoyah’s football season and the seasons of other sports. Because of our quick actions, however, football players were able to finish their senior year and play other sports the rest of the year. Eligibility was restored or saved for dozens of players in other sports, and multiple championships, which had been taken from Sequoyah, were restored.

I commend Smith for his efforts for his client. As to “political grandstanding,” I will not engage Smith in that area because he is better at it than most. However, I promise that every decision we make will be in the best interest of all the young women and men at Sequoyah High School. We will be known for doing what is right and playing by the rules. We will bring honor to our school’s namesake and to our community.

We are Sequoyah, and we are proud.

Leroy Qualls, superintendent

Sequoyah Schools