Tahlequah Daily Press

November 6, 2012

Report: Sequoyah opts not to fight OSSAA ruling

Sports Editor

— Sequoyah has decided to accept its fate.

The school announced Monday that it would cease with any form of fighting a recent Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association ruling, which stated Sequoyah must forfeit its nine victories during the 2012 football season.

In fact, Sequoyah officials informed the nine schools Sequoyah beat this year (Okemah, Beggs, Sperry, Keys, Hilldale, Lincoln Christian, Locust Grove, Westville and Jay) of their forfeitures by sending out email notifications, Sequoyah athletic director Marcus Crittenden announced.

"We are focused on getting these gentlemen reinstated as quickly as possible," Crittenden told the Tulsa World on Monday. "We are holding hope that the association will treat our boys kindly and hold them minimally accountable when you consider this was not their fault."

The Tulsa World first reported Sequoyah's decision to not fight the ruling by the OSSAA.

On Oct. 22, the OSSAA ruled 12 Sequoyah football players ineligible for violations of illegal activity at individual summer camps. According to the OSSAA, the Indians violated the summer camp rule (OSSAA Rule 10-D-2c) which states that athletes are not allowed to participate in individual camps where players' expenses are paid for by the " school, by school personnel or by any booster group or organization associated with the school, or by any non-family member.”

However, the 12 Sequoyah players that were found to be in violation of the rule were able to play in the Indians' final two games of the season after a district judge upheld a temporary restraining order against the OSSAA.

Sequoyah players who hope to be reinstated by the OSSAA will be given the chance to plead their case at the OSSAA's board of directors meeting on Wednesday in Oklahoma City.

By choosing to accept the OSSAA's ruling, Sequoyah will not be allowed to participate the Class 3A playoffs, which begin on Friday. On Saturday, the OSSAA released 3A playoff pairings without Sequoyah in them, hinting that the Indians would be forced to sit out during the postseason.

The Indians, who went 9-1 overall and 6-0 in District 3A-7, won the district championship before they were forced to forfeit their wins. If Sequoyah had made the playoffs, it would have hosted Checotah in the first round.

Instead, every team in 3A-7 moved up a spot in the standings. Hilldale will now host Checotah while Keys — which was to play at Roland — will now host Spiro.

Sequoyah’s decision to back off the OSSAA’s most recent ruling is a turn of face after the Sequoyah players were first ruled ineligible. At the time, in a press release from the Cherokee Nation, Attorney General Todd Hembree said: “Chief Baker has instructed my office and the Cherokee Nation to use every resource we have throughout the appeal process. The Chief and I find it unconscionable that students and families are being punished for the actions of adults who should have followed the rules.”

Attorney Tim Baker, who is representing four of the Sequoyah players, told the Tulsa World on Monday, "it's pretty unfair. When a kid’s told to go to camp, you don’t suspect your coach or administrator is putting you in a position where your eligibility could be questioned.”