CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Elkins High may be forced to vacate all of its wins this season after a Wednesday ruling by the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission that the Tigers used an ineligible football player this season.Elkins, 7-2 and ranked No. 8 in the Class AAA playoff ratings before the ruling, had wins against Class AAA opponents Oak Hill, Hampshire, Buckhannon-Upshur and Preston and Class AA opponents Fairmont Senior, East Fairmont and Philip Barbour. The Tigers' two losses came against Class AAA Wheeling Park and Class AA Bridgeport.SSAC executive director Gary Ray said the state's governing body for high school sports received notice from the Randolph County school stating it used an ineligible player, whose name has not been released, take part in some games."We don't know how many games the kid played in for sure," Ray said. "We'll want to get that in written communication. However many games he played in, it will count as a win for the losing teams [and a loss for Elkins]."Randolph County Schools superintendent Dr. James Phares told Metronews that a neighboring county filed a written complaint with the SSAC and that the player transferred to Elkins High for "not any other reason than he was homeless."Phares said the parents of the student signed over guardianship to his grandmother and that the school accepted the transfer. He said there is a July deadline to file paperwork with the SSAC in situations such as this one but because the student had not transferred by that point the deadline was missed.After then, Phares said he thought the school did not think the deadline applied to them because of the McKinney-Vento Act - a piece of federal legislation passed in 2002 dealing with the education of children experiencing homelessness in United States public schools."A lot of folks asked what the implications would be because they didn't file the paperwork. I'm going to take the responsibility for this one," Phares told Metronews. "I'm not going to hold them responsible. They were doing the right thing by this kid and weren't cheating. I'm not going to place the blame finger there, if folks need to place the blame finger they can do it to the top guy."According to a report in the Clarksburg Exponent-Telegram, the family of the student has obtained legal representation to consider filing a motion for an injunction.
The ruling will cause some havoc in the playoff ratings in both Class AAA and Class AA, especially if all of Elkins' wins are forfeited.Wheeling Park and Bridgeport will both lose ground despite beating the Tigers. The Patriots and Indians will each lose several bonus points previously accounted for from Elkins' wins.Oak Hill and Hampshire, both outside of the 16-team playoff field in the current Class AAA rankings, could each move up into the playoff field and potentially knock one or more teams out.The same goes for Fairmont Senior in Class AA. The Polar Bears are currently ranked No. 19 and would jump ahead of several teams in the ratings with a win against Elkins added to their total.Another thing to factor in is teams now receiving bonus points for beating teams that will now have wins against Elkins. Frankfort, for example, recently beat Fairmont Senior and would be in line to receive a bonus point in the ratings.Teams receive a bonus point for each game won by a defeated opponent against a school in its class or higher. So while Bridgeport and Wheeling Park will each gain points from some games, they will lose more from the Elkins wins that are wiped out.
"[Playoff ratings] probably will not be adjusted until next week's ratings come out," Ray said.Nick Scala contributed to this story. Reach Tom Bragg at firstname.lastname@example.org.