After using an ineligible player for nearly all football season, Ringling learned of its fate and the player's fate Wednesday during the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association board of directors meeting.
The board voted 7-4 in favor of allowing senior Ryan Lester to play baseball and possibly golf this spring after he was ruled ineligible before the Class A football semifinals due to repeating the eighth grade and not sitting out the required year.
“We're excited that Ryan is going to get to play baseball,” Ringling football coach and athletic director Tracy Gandy said. “And I appreciate the board hearing us out and giving us an honest evaluation. I think the facts in this case are pretty clear that there was no intent on his part or anybody's part. It was more or less a clerical mistake that we made at the school.”
The OSSAA staff also informed the board of self-imposed sanctions by the school the organization has agreed to, including not allowing the football team to participate in spring practices.
Ringling came under fire during the playoffs when an anonymous letter was sent to the OSSAA with details about Lester's eligibility. The OSSAA ruled Lester ineligible but allowed the team to continue playing. The Blue Devils lost the Class A championship game to Hollis.
Other sanctions include:
*The football program is placed on warning for one year.
*Any head coach that also serves as athletic director, like Gandy, will not be allowed to handle student-athlete eligibility issues. That responsibility will fall to someone else to be determined.
*All Ringling students are now required to complete a New Student Form before each school year to determine eligibility.
*The school has already completed a thorough examination of each student's eligibility, finding two juniors to have repeated the seventh grade. They will be allowed to complete this year, but their eligibility for their senior season will be determined later.
NEWCASTLE'S SANDERS REINSTATED
Newcastle girls basketball coach Brett Sanders vowed to improve how he deals with officials. He earned his reinstatement from the board following a lengthy period in which he was not allowed to coach due to being ejected from two games this season.
Sanders, a first-year coach for the Racers, was ejected a second time last month, breaking OSSAA Rule 13, Section 4. The rule states that “any coach who is ejected from a contest a second time for the same or related activity shall be suspended from coaching until reinstated by the OSSAA Board of Directors.”
Sanders told the board he would resign if he is ejected again. He missed 10 high school games and five junior high games during the suspension.
“Each one of them cuts a little deeper,” Sanders told the board.
NEW BOARD MEMBERS ELECTED
Results of the elections for six quadrants were announced for new board members, with one still to be determined.
Guthrie superintendent Mike Simpson won a runoff for the Northwest Quadrant Division I vacancy, while former Oklahoma City Public Schools deputy superintendent Sandra Park won the Multi-High District, though she is currently searching for another job in a multi-high system to retain her position.
Other winners include Shawn Hime of Enid, Mike Zurline of Rush Springs, Mark Haught of Altus and Mark Hudson of Preston.
Bryan McNutt of Antlers and Kevin Duncan of Tishomingo will have a runoff for the final open position.