Tahlequah Daily Press

October 2, 2013

Okla. Supreme Court: Ruling on Sequoyah ‘arbitrary and capricious’

By BEN JOHNSON
Sports Editor

bjohnson@tahlequahdailypress.com



Brayden Scott would like to go back in time, but he knows he can’t.

Scott came to that conclusion on Tuesday after the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled on Sequoyah’s nearly year-long dispute with the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association. The state’s high court ruled that the OSSAA acted in an “arbitrary and capricious manner” by determining that Sequoyah players violated Rule 9 of the organization’s policies.

“Wish they could have done this like a year ago,” Scott told the Tahlequah Daily Press on Tuesday night.

In November of 2012, the OSSAA ruled that Sequoyah had to forfeit all nine of its victories during the regular season, because of the Indians breaking several rules in the OSSAA’s policy manual. The governing body of high school sports in Oklahoma temporarily suspended more than a dozen Sequoyah football players, permanently suspended Scott and eliminated Sequoyah from any participation in postseason play in football.

It was reversed nearly a year later. The only OSSAA ruling that wasn’t overturned was the ban placed on former Sequoyah head coach Brent Scott coaching in Oklahoma. At the OSSAA’s monthly board meeting in November of 2012, the OSSAA’s board of directors ruled that Scott must sit out a year before coaching again in the state.

Chad Smith, former principal chief of the Cherokee Nation and Brayden Scott’s attorney, said the decision on Brent Scott should soon be discarded.

“Brent Scott coaching wasn’t addressed,” Smith said. “But that’s the next step. The whole case should be thrown out, including the ruling on Brent.”

Brent Scott opted to remain quiet when reached by the Tahlequah Daily Press on Tuesday.

“I’ve got a whole lot to say, but I’ve other things going on,” he said. “I don’t want to say the wrong thing.”

The state’s Supreme Court ruled in a 7-2 decision in Sequoyah’s favor against the OSSAA, which presented a case against Scott — a former standout quarterback at Sequoyah — in the fall of last year. The OSSAA stated that Scott and other Sequoyah players violated a policy that the OSSAA didn’t institute until 2011-2012.

“Retroactive application of policies that did not exist for the majority of the alleged violations is inherently arbitrary and capricious because it has no basis in reason and is in complete disregard of the facts and circumstances,” the court wrote.

The OSSAA concluded that Sequoyah was involved in paying for players to attend summer camps, which, according to the OSSAA, is a violation of Rule 9. The OSSAA also discerned that Sequoyah was involved in the recruitment of players — another organization violation.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court countered the OSSAA’s claim of Sequoyah paying for summer camps with by saying, “at no point did the OSSAA allege or attempt to prove that the payment of individual camp fees by Sequoyah for its football players, including Scott.”

Ultimately, the state’s Supreme Court addressed a need for more oversight on the OSSAA. Allowing the OSSAA to operate with “near impunity” as a voluntary organization, the Supreme Court stated that in the future the OSSAA would be handled as a state agency because it is basic fabric of the public school system.

After hearing of the Supreme Court’s determination, OSSAA executive director Ed Sheakley told the Associated Press, “we’re still digesting it and seeing what all the implications are. Obviously this is something we’ll discuss with our membership and our board.”