Forfeit Caused by '12 State Football Championship Rings Proves Costly has partnered with LexisNexis to bring you this content.

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The State Journal- Register (Springfield, IL)
October 27, 2013 Sunday
IL NEWS; Pg. 1
623 words
IHSA Ruling;
Rochester must forfeit CS8 victory over SHG
Staff Writer

Rochester High School's football team will forfeit its Sept. 6 win over Sacred Heart-Griffin after the Illinois High School Association ruled Saturday that three players who improperly received 2012 Class 4A state championship rings were ineligible for violating an IHSA bylaw.

The players, who have not been named, were ruled by the IHSA to have been ineligible for the first eight games of the season. The three players and head coach Derek Leonard sat out Friday's 49-24 win over Jacksonville in the ninth and final regular-season game.

The three players' fate for the postseason, which begins Friday, won't be determined until early this week when the IHSA makes another ruling.

Reached for comment on Saturday, Leonard and principal Dennis Canny said neither was able to speak to the media until after the final ruling has been made.

"We're not going to say anything until there's been a ruling on the kids," Canny said. "We'll have a press release after they rule on the kids, but we agreed we will not comment until we have the full ruling from the IHSA."

A news release Friday from the Rochester School District said an internal audit and investigation found that Football Moms, a non-school-sanctioned organization, paid for state championship rings for the three players. The amount per ring of $457 exceeded the $200-per-ring contribution limit allowed under IHSA bylaw 3.080, which deals with a player's amateur status.

Canny was quoted in the Rochester School District's news release, "Unfortunately, by doing so, the representatives of Football Moms unknowingly jeopardized the eligibility of three Rochester High School football players who had no knowledge of or involvement in a violation of the by-law."

Rochester defeated SHG 38-33 in Week 2 but because the win must be forfeited, the Central State Eight Conference championship goes to SHG, which was 7-1 in conference play before the ruling. Rochester, which had gone 8-0 en route to a perfect 9-0 regular season, is now 8-1 overall and 7-1 in the conference.

"When the IHSA releases the football playoff pairings (Saturday), Rochester will be seeded based upon an 8-1 record and Sacred Heart Griffin a 9-0 record," the IHSA press release said.

The IHSA ruled that the SHG game was the only one to be forfeited because it was the sole Rochester victory where the point margin was small enough for the participation of ineligible players to make a direct impact on the outcome.

The other margins of victories this season for Rochester were 26, 32, 21, 42, 21, 27, 28 and 25 points.

"We followed past precedent for these types of situations," IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman said in a news release Saturday.

"While it may be difficult to judge a defensive player's impact on a game, upon reviewing information related to the Rochester/Sacred Heart-Griffin game, it was apparent that one of the players had a significant influence on the game's outcome. Based on the margins of victory, the Sacred Heart-Griffin game was the only contest where I felt the outcome could have been different had those players not participated."

On Friday, the IHSA commended Rochester for self-reporting the violations and that may have led to less-severe punishment based on past precedent.

In 2003, Kewanee Wethersfield was stripped of all 11 of its wins from the 2002 season and was forced to give back a 2002 Class 1A semifinal plaque after the IHSA found the team was given championship rings by the school's booster club for a 2001 Class 1A state title.

Those rings cost $80, which was $60 above the then-allowed limit set by the IHSA of $20.

Rochester has won three straight Class 4A state championships.

Contact Ryan Mahan: 788-1546, [email protected],

October 28, 2013

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