SCHSL votes against Goose Creek; Mercy plea denied

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCIV) - After deliberating for less than 30 minutes, the South Carolina High School League ended Goose Creek High School's playoff hopes by upholding their decision to disqualify the team from post-season play.

By a vote of 9-2, the board ruled to uphold their decision. After the vote, the group convened into executive session to consider a plea of mercy.

The group emerged from that meeting to rule 10-1 against Goose Creek, killing the school's hopes of making another run to the state finals.

Berkeley County School District officials said Wednesday night head coach Chuck Reedy and principal Jimmy Huskey would hold a press conference to discuss the SCHSL's decision. That press conference was scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday, officials said.

Members of the school administration pleaded Tuesday evening with the panel to overturn the decision to disqualify the team from playoffs for suiting up an ineligible player.

According to sources involved in the investigation, the student transferred from Berkeley High School to Goose Creek this year. He was a member of Berkeley's basketball team, but did not play football at Berkeley, the sources said.

The student, according to those same sources, has been admitted to several schools during his academic tenure and his transcripts were lost in the last move.

Amy Kovach, a spokeswoman for the school district, said the school reported a violation to officials but would not confirm exactly what was reported.

"We self reported," she said. "We found an error in a transcript and decided to self report immediately, which we did yesterday evening. (We) called the league and had a good conversation with them. They made an appropriate decision to disband play until we could get an appeals process underway which happened today and then we'll move forward tomorrow."

The team was disqualified from the playoffs earlier this week.

The Gators were the state's No. 1 team, with a record of 12-0. The team beat Conway 48-7 in the first round of the playoffs and had been slated to play Bluffton Friday.

Berkeley County School District officials released the following statement after the vote:

"At a closed hearing tonight of the SC High School League, the league administrators determined that the Goose Creek football team did not meet the standards for extraordinary conditions and will not play in the playoff game on Friday, November 16 against Bluffton.

Goose Creek High School football coach Chuck Reedy, principal Jimmy Huskey and Superintendent Rodney Thompson presented their case to league administrators regarding the violation of league guidelines.

In the appeal, Mr. Reedy and Mr. Huskey stated that they notified the league immediately upon learning that a student may be ineligible for play, per league rules. The league took immediate and appropriate action. The school and district exercised their right to appeal based on extraordinary conditions that they believe demonstrates no ill intent and no competitive advantage was gained by the team players, the coaches, the staff or administration.

"We are surprised and disappointed at the outcome of this decision," Superintendent Rodney Thompson stated. "We have upheld the best interests of our students. We are proud of their accomplishments to date and how they have handled adversity during this trying time."

The updated student transcript record in question was received after the student was enrolled at the school. The original transcript used at the beginning of the season was incomplete. When the student registered for winter sports, an updated transcript was used and the error was found.

Although we adamantly disagree with this decision, the team, school and district appreciate the league's consideration of its appeal. The team thanks community and fans for their support of the players at this time and look forward next season.

"We will be looking into our options and next steps," Thompson said. "We are very proud of our Goose Creek community and our students."

Democratic State Rep. Bakari Sellers, in a tweet Wednesday night, called for more oversight over the High School League.