Wright City is back in the Class A state baseball tournament, but at a cost.
The school won its appeal with the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association on Tuesday when the board of directors voted 7-6 to issue a warning to the school and recommend a lengthy suspension for coach Kyle Butler.
Butler will miss the remainder of this season and first semester next year, which includes the fall season.
“I'm embarrassed,” Butler said during the appeal. “It's a mistake that I've made. ... I ask you guys consider punishing me, not my kids.”
Wright City and Sterling will play their quarterfinal game at 6 p.m. Thursday in Byng. The semifinals and championship will be played Saturday at a site to be determined Wednesday.
The OSSAA had three punishment options after Friday's Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling on the case: suspend Wright City, place it on probation or issue a warning. The latter was the only one that allowed the school to remain in the tournament, and it also ended the legal battle.
“Elated,” Wright City attorney Kevin Sain said about the outcome. “This has been a good experience here and I really feel like the board has done the right thing in what they've done.”
But even with the punishment decided, there is still a long road for the OSSAA and the schools involved.
Wright City was forced to forfeit its state tournament quarterfinal on April 30 after it was determined it had exceeded the 22-game limit by two, but the school received an injunction in McCurtain County on May 1.
The first day of the tournament was postponed due to rain, and the first three games were played the next day as the McCurtain County court upheld the injunction following a hearing, postponing the tournament and forcing the OSSAA to appeal to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court finally ruled that both sides erred in a lengthy court battle and lifted the injunction to send the appeal back to the OSSAA board. It also ruled that executive director Ed Sheakley and the OSSAA staff did not have the authority to independently investigate and rule on cases without the board of directors, according to its constitution.
However, the OSSAA also addressed that Tuesday following Wright City's appeal by voting unanimously to approve a policy that allows Sheakley and the staff to act for the board in those cases. Once a punishment is handed out, an appeal can still be made to the board.