By BEN JOHNSON
The Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association released its playoff brackets on Saturday. One team conspicuously missing from the 3A field was Sequoyah.
The OSSAA ruled on Saturday that “Sequoyah has to forfeit their whole season,” said Amanda Clinton, Cherokee Nation’s director of communications.
The Indians, who went 9-1 during the regular season, were forced to vacate their wins because of the use of an ineligible player.
“We have finished our investigation, and multiple students have violated our summer camp policy,” said Ed Sheakley, the executive director of the OSSAA. “They were also in violation of Rule 9, Section 2, our recruiting rule.”
Sheakley said players who violate the camp policy are ruled ineligible until reinstated by the OSSAA. “Students will be allowed to appeal on Wednesday if they so choose,” Sheakley said.
The OSSAA monthly board of directors meeting is Wednesday in Oklahoma City.
The news of Sequoyah’s absence from the playoffs comes a couple of weeks after the OSSAA told Sequoyah that eight to 12 players would be forced to sit out, due to players participating illegally in summer camps. That sparked several Sequoyah players to take legal action, filing a temporary restraining order against the OSSAA in Cherokee County.
That restraining order was upheld by Special District Judge Douglas Kirkley, and in Sequoyah’s next two games the Indians had a full roster.
“The main thing is we are deeply saddened by the turn of events for the kids, who did nothing wrong,” said Marcus Crittenden, Sequoyah’s athletic director. “The former administration should have known better; they were people trusted to get things right and didn’t get it done.”
When asked which former administrators were to blame for the recent problems, Crittenden said, “I’m not going to name names.”
Clinton and Crittenden said several times during an interview with the Daily Press on Saturday that Sequoyah Schools is “working with the OSSAA to rebuild trust.”
Clinton added: “We have been very forthcoming with the OSSAA, and they’re pleased with our level of cooperation. And we continue to cooperate with them today.”
With Sequoyah void from the 3A playoff field, every team in District 3A-7 moves up a spot in the standings. Taking Sequoyah’s place as district champions is Hilldale, who will host Checotah in the first round of the playoffs.
Sequoyah’s absence moves Keys up from No. 3 to No. 2 in 3A-7, and the Cougars will now host a first-round playoff game. The Cougars will take on Spiro Friday night.
Also in 3A-7, Lincoln Christian moves to the third spot, while Jay — who was to miss the postseason — moves up into the fourth and final playoff spot and will play at Stigler on Friday.
“We knew this investigation was going one,” Clinton said, “and we knew a possibility was the forfeiture of the season.”
The ruling on the Sequoyah football team comes a little more than a month after the school was forced to vacate its 2012 slowpitch softball state championship.
Asked if a possible death penalty could be placed on all Sequoyah athletics, Clinton responded with: “I don’t think we can speculate on anything like that at this point.”