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.
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