VHS reports use of ineligible player to MHSAA

Published 12:05 pm Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Vicksburg High coach Alonzo Stevens reported an eligibility violation to Vicksburg-Warren School district athletic director Lum Wright, Jr. and the Mississippi High School Activities Association before last week’s Region 2-6A opener against Grenada.

Wright said Monday that he expects to receive the MHSAA’s final ruling on the matter on Wednesday.

“The Vicksburg High coaching staff turned themselves in on an ineligible player violation. We got the report and sent it into the MHSAA,” Wright said. “The player in question was used in four ballgames and played only on special teams. The eligibility question about the kid was not age, but the number of years he had been in high school. The MHSAA rules state that once a student athlete enters the ninth grade, he has four years of high school athletic eligibility.”

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Stevens said the mistake was made, but he caught it and turned it in.

“What we had was a kid who had repeated the ninth grade,” Stevens said Monday afternoon. “When he made our first eligibility check before the season, we saw where the kid had maintained a good GPA and had done everything we had asked of him. He was a senior, so we got him in on special teams. Then I went back over our eligibility lists and I caught it before we started district play. It’s one thing to have to forfeit a non-conference game. It’s really hard when you have to forfeit a conference game.”

Vicksburg lost all four of the games the player in question participated in. The losses included the Red Carpet Bowl against Gulfport, a home game against Richwood, La., and road games at Tylertown and Lawrence County.

The general penalty the MHSAA uses for such a violation is game forfeitures. Wright said the MHSAA can also issue fines up to $1,000 and put the school on probation for one year.

Stevens, however, said that should not be the case with the Gators.

“Very, very few times does the MHSAA fine a school over something like this. We turned ourselves in. It’s when someone else turns you in is where you have problems,” Stevens said.

In the meantime, the Gators will try to correct the defensive and special teams problems that dropped their record to 0-5 after last Friday’s 54-45 loss to Grenada.

The loss spoiled a 370-yard, four-touchdown passing performance from junior quarterback Cameron Cooksey.

“Cooksey showed us everything we thought he could be,” Stevens said. “Take away the blocked punt return for a touchdown and the 60-yard punt return for a touchdown and what do we have — a 45-40 win.”