GOOSE CREEK, S.C. (WCIV) - In a press conference Thursday morning, the principal and head football coach set the story straight on the football team's disqualification from playoffs.
According to the school's principal, Jimmy Huskey, the appeal hearing Wednesday evening was closed to the public to protect the identity of the student at the center of the South Carolina High School League's ruling.
Huskey said Thursday he first pulled the transcript on the student and filled out a transfer form in early September. At that time, he did not see anything wrong with the student's transcript, Huskey said.
However, he pulled the student's transcript shortly before the start of the basketball season and saw he was ineligible. At the time, Huskey saw the student was on the football team.
Within 90 minutes of the realization, school officials called the SCHSL, Huskey said.
According to Huskey, the unnamed student's permanent file arrived at the school a week after his transcript. He said the transcript from three years ago was not included in the original transcript, which is where the error started.
Goose Creek asked the SCHSL to consider the hardships the athlete has dealt with in his personal life, and Huskey said he believed the argument was a good one because of the student's extraordinary circumstances.
Huskey said the fight is not over, adding that legal action to get the team back on the field is a possibility. Huskey said he would be in contact with attorneys during the day on Thursday, saying he has to do what he thinks is right for Goose Creek.
He added that an injunction was possible.
Huskey, who appeared emotional during the conference, said the steps he and the school are going to take are only right because the ineligible student was an oversight, not a purposeful act by the school and the team.
When asked who would fund the lawsuit, Huskey said he did not know if the services would be offered pro bono or if it would be taxpayer-funded.
Head coach Chuck Reedy said the player approached him during the second week of the season and informed Reedy he was 18 years old and in his senior year. Reedy said he wanted all students who wanted to play to have the opportunity, so he accepted the student on to the team.
According to Reedy, the student would miss practices and would get frustrated, but he ultimately had no impact on the team. Reedy said he did not cut the player, but instead tried to help him improve. At this point in the season, the student had taken the field in a few games and been a part of 17 plays, Reedy said.
None of the games in which the student was involved was the lead for Goose Creek less than 41 points, Reedy added.
The student is a foster child who has attended seven different high schools in the state, Reedy said.
Reedy called Wednesday night's decision an injustice.
Huskey said the blame for the oversight rests on his shoulders.
"Guys, sometimes right doesn't prevail," Reedy said he told the team, adding that he thought they would all move forward with class and character.
Reedy said the team will meet in the afternoon to talk about their options and if they will practice.
Addressing the decision to self-report, Reedy said it does not help, adding that governing bodies always use it against the team. He pointed to instances in the NCAA where teams would delay the report and keep playing.
Tramel Terry, the Gators' star wide receiver, was in tears as he said it's hard accepting that the season - and football career - is over for many of the guys on the team who are not going on to play college football.
Tramel said he would miss the brotherhood the most.
He said that he was most upset that his father never got to see him play because he lives four hours away. Tramel was hoping his father would make it to the state title game.
"There will always be obstacles in life, we'll keep trucking through them," senior defensive lineman Dylan Steele said.
Huskey said the school is not throwing in the towel yet.
"Expect something legal to happen today," he said.
He added that one of the seven school the unnamed student attended made a mistake that created the error Goose Creek is dealing with now, but he does not know which one.
Goose Creek is the top team in the state, Reedy said.
"There are always people that are jealous and want to knock you down," he said.
The district will provide information on any legal action taken by the school and the team.