SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Some parents of football players at Beach High School are speaking out following word Monday that the team has been kicked out of the playoffs.
The decision from the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) involves issues of player eligibility, something the school district has already been grappling with after it was revealed that Islands High School had violated GHSA rules and would have to forfeit games. Later, the coach at Islands High School was moved.
Now it appears to be Beach’s turn in terms of the issue. Beach has been told it must forfeit six games, face a fine and that the Bulldogs cannot play in the playoff game Friday. It would have been the first time in eight years that the high school had made it to the playoffs.
Latashia Grant is the parent of one of three young men that transferred to Beach this year from a private school. She and other parents told News 3 that the issue surrounds those three players.
“The kids were at practice preparing for their playoff game on Friday and they find out that all of a sudden they have to forfeit all their wins,” she told us.
Grant and others say it’s not just their sons playing, it’s the team, and that team members are upset and devastated.
“Our kids fought hard to play for those wins and they made it to the playoffs and they should have their right to play in the playoffs because there’s nothing ineligible about any of our kids that attend Beach,” said Grant.
The parents say a coach from the private school went to work for Beach sometime last year but that their kids didn’t transfer with the intention of following the coach. They said Beach is the public school in their district and they decided they didn’t want their children to attend the private school for a number of reasons including cost.
Parents also told News 3 it was their understanding that proper paperwork had been filed before the football season started.
“So, there should have been no problem. You have to turn in all of the pertinent information to the school board, the Georgia High School Association before the school season started,” said Frederic Leslie, a friend of one of the parents. “These boys were allowed to attend summer practice, go to camps, every due diligence was done so if there was going to be a problem it would have been found and addressed at that time, not nine games into the season when you’ve made the playoffs and now you’re being told that you can’t play in that playoff game.”
GHSA rules say you can’t go to a new school and play for a former coach without waiting a year or getting permission from the organization. That’s something parents say they were never told.
On Nov. 6, Dr. Ann Levett, superintendent of the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System wrote a letter to the school community indicating that because of the problem at Islands High School and because of allegations made against another school, that the district was taking additional action to ensure “rule violations did not occur in the future.”
A press release from the district also indicated that Beach had “self-reported the possible violation” and outlined the GHSA sanctions which included the forfeiture of six games, a $1,000 fine and no playoff participation.
In her letter, Dr. Levett said that GHSA actions do not discredit the athletes or their hard work during the year as well as their performance.
Those words have not been much comfort to parents like Zelma Jones who said this should not be the end of this.
“We will do whatever we need to do to stand for the right not only for our three sons but for all the players on that team,” Jones told us.
News 3 is told that Beach is appealing the decision to GHSA. But parents worry that by the time a decision is made it may be too late for the team to practice and to psychologically prepare for a playoff game.