The West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission has handed down a two-game suspension to Capital boys basketball coach Matt Greene in connection with his team’s game last Wednesday against Huntington Prep’s Blue team.
The SSAC ruled that Capital’s 75-59 home victory that night was an unsanctioned game. In addition to suspending Greene for two games, the Cougars must forfeit that victory and will be placed on a year’s probation.
Greene thus missed Capital’s Tuesday home game against Logan and will miss Wednesday’s home game against Spring Valley, which conclude the Cougars’ regular season. The Spring Valley game is Capital’s Senior Night.
Huntington St. Joseph Prep, which is not a member of the SSAC, competes against a regional and national schedule, and its Blue squad is more or less considered the program’s junior varsity team.
Greene indicated during the season that he received clearance from the SSAC to play Huntington Prep Blue, even though other teams around the state, such as Huntington, were told they could not.
SSAC rules prohibit member schools from playing teams that carry post-graduate players on their roster, or programs where the players do not actually attend classes at the school. Huntington Prep players attend classes at St. Joseph High School in Huntington. Huntington Prep changed its official name to Huntington St. Joseph Prep in 2013.
Greene said late Monday he isn’t sure if he will accept the suspension until he speaks with legal counsel.
“The decision is contradictory of their own rules and confusing,’’ Greene said.
Greene pointed to the SSAC rules provisions governing contests, specifically rules 127-3-2.3 and 2.7, which appear to place responsibility for rules infractions upon the principal and not the head coach.
“They are not even following the rules they laid out about delegation and principals’ responsibilities,’’ he said.
Bernie Dolan, executive director of the SSAC, said the difference with Capital playing Huntington Prep Blue as opposed to a team like Teays Valley Christian, which has played other SSAC teams, is that “the Teays Valley kids go to Teays Valley Christian School –- Huntington Prep players don’t go to Huntington Prep. It doesn’t matter what level team they have.’’
Dolan did not want to discuss the penalties levied, but did admit that enforcing a rule regarding an unsanctioned game was somewhat unprecedented.
“We have a log book [detailing past sanctions],’’ Dolan said, “and I did not see an entry for that. I didn’t look over every single one, but I did look back several years.’’
Dolan’s email to Greene late Monday indicated that Greene could be present for pregame Senior Night activities prior to Wednesday’s game with Spring Valley, but that he must follow the suspension rule for the game.
Dolan also said Greene could appeal the decision at the SSAC Board of Directors meeting on Feb. 28.
Greene said the game against Huntington Prep Blue was listed on his team’s schedule all along and that he never tried to hide the fact the game was to be played.
“The schedule has been on the SSAC website since the season started,’’ Greene said, “with no objection or protest until the day after the game was played. There is no documentation that anyone told me we could not play Huntington Prep Blue.’’
It’s the second time in five years the SSAC has handed down a scheduling penalty to Capital basketball.
The Cougars played 23 regular-season games during the 2012-13 season, one over the mandated limit, and were placed on a year’s probation and limited to 20 games for the 2013-14 season.
On a side note, Greene said the SSAC fined Capital $50 Monday for not reporting a score from its Jan. 9 game on the portion of the SSAC website dedicated to high school schedules and results. The game in question? Huntington Prep Blue, the game that was later moved to Feb. 14.