Amherst’s request for temporary injunction denied; Falcons ineligible for WIAA football playoffs
By Jacob Heid
AMHERST — A Portage County Circuit Court judge on Oct 17 denied the request from Amherst High School for a temporary injunction that would have overturned the six forfeits handed down from a ruling by the WIAA due to an ineligible player. The Falcons will not be in the 2022 WIAA football playoffs.
In a press release from the Tomorrow River School District on Oct 13, the district stated that they appealed the WIAA’s ruling of an Amherst player exhausting his athletic eligibility because of football participation in another school district in 2018. The WIAA Board of Control voted 9-0 to uphold its decision.
“We are extremely disappointed by this unreasonable ruling from the WIAA,” District Administrator Mike Richie said in the press release.
The school’s Athletic Director was advised on Oct 10 that the player in question participated in freshman/JV football at Manawa High School as a home-schooled student in the fall of 2018. The WIAA’s Communications Director Todd Clark clarified the eligibility rule to the Gazette following the ruling.
“Yes, four consecutive semesters once you begin participation in the ninth grade with eight semesters or 12 trimesters maximum,” he said.
In that case, the 2021-22 school year would have been the student’s final year of eligibility.
According to the release on Oct 13, district officials argued that they were not aware of the student’s participation while being home-schooled. At this point, the district announced that it would not take any legal action. An Oct 14 update on the Tomorrow River School District’s Facebook page stated they would pursue a temporary restraining order. If they won, Amherst’s conference record would be restored, and they would make the playoffs.
The hearing occurred on Oct 17, with Portage County Circuit Court judge Michael Zell rejecting the request. Amherst argued the “contribution of victory” clause should have been applied. The player in question played 43% of snaps this season, the WIAA attorney stated, according to people at the hearing. With the ruling, the Amherst football team officially forfeits all six wins and is ineligible for the playoffs.