The Countryside drama won’t be like other eligibility scandals Tampa Bay has seen.
That’s because of new FHSAA rules, thanks to HB 1403, the law that affected a lot more than just transfers,
as our Bob Putnam reports.
Last year, Countryside would automatically forfeit the games in question. Its quarterback participated, and he should not have been eligible, so the team must forfeit. Period.
If an ineligible student is intentionally permitted to participate in an interscholastic athletic contest, forfeiture of the game and honors shall be automatic and mandatory. If an ineligible student is inadvertently permitted to participate in an interscholastic athletic contest, forfeiture of the game and honors shall be automatic and mandatory if the coach or school administrator knew or should have known that such use would be a violation of the association’s rules and regulations (HB 1403).
The FHSAA hasn’t decided whether Countryside knew or should have known that its quarterback was ineligible earlier than it did. I don’t want to speculate on that here, because I don’t think we have all of the facts yet.
I do want to raise a question:
In general, what do you think of that new rule?
I’m torn. It’s not fair that a whole team was punished for the mistake of one player (or parent), assuming the violations were accidental and not intentional. (Again, I’m withholding judgment on the Countryside case until all of the information comes out).
But it’s not fair to the teams that faced Countryside, either, if they were playing against a quarterback who should not have been eligible.
I favor tweaking the definition of “participate,” which has typically meant "played in a game or suited up on the sidelines." Maybe forfeits should only follow if the player has a significant impact on the game. Starting receiver? That’d be a forfeit. Backup special teams guy? Not a forfeit.
Do you like the new rule? How would you like to see it applied?