|Johnson players take the field. West Point vs. J.O. Johnson at Milton Frank Stadium Thursday evening Oct. 1, 2015. (Bob Gathany/bgathany@AL.com)|
Thank you for the correction Brian: They hadn't won a title yet. JO Johnson wasn't even champions of their region. What they had done was qualify for the state playoffs. They were in 3rd place in Class 5A Region 8 behind Russellville (9-1 overall and 7-0 in the region and had a 29-26 victory over JOJ) and East Limestone (8-2 overall, 6-1 region, 24-14 victory over JOJ). They were scheduled to go to Kimberly, Alabama and play Mortimer Jordan High School in the 1st round of the playoffs.
WHNT reported the 2015-16 J.O.Johnson Jaguars Football team violated the Alabama High School Athletic Association Transfer policy that states a student who transfers from a private school to a public school is ineligible to play for one year.
Huntsville City Schools said the district received information about the student, then investigated the issue and self-reported findings to the AHSAA. The student violated the rule of "Overlapping School Zones," found on page 33 of the AHSAA 2015-2015 handbook:EYE don't know if this "very narrowly" policy applies to students who transfer from a public school to a private school, but EYE digress. Evidently the HCS AD was not aware of this rule when he submitted the required online eligibility form, because he allowed the transfer student player to play for the entire season before it was bought to the attention of the school district. In other words the district "self reported" their incompetence, after J.O. qqualified for the state playoffs.
“A student whose parents reside in an area served by more than one school lives in the school zone of each school, thus in overlapping school zones. A student who changes schools within these overlapping school zones is ineligible for one year at the new school.”
Ward said the Johnson student attended a private school in Huntsville last year, but didn't even play.
"And that makes him ineligible? There's nothing we could really do," Ward said. "If you read that rule, it's pretty specific. Very narrowly focused."
"Huntsville City Schools said the district received information about the student, then investigated the issue and self-reported findings to the AHSAA. The student violated the rule of "Overlapping School Zones," found on page 33 of the AHSAA 2015-2015 handbook:"The student athletes demonstrated good sportsmanship and won their title fair, and square only to have it snatched away.
The interscholastic athletic program provided in the Huntsville City Schools shall be restricted to grades 7 through 12. In keeping with the philosophy of the Huntsville City Schools Board of Education that the primary goal of all school programs should be the development of worthy citizens, the interscholastic athletic program in the Huntsville City Schools shall be planned to provide opportunities for all students to develop a sense of fair play, exercise responsibility, and demonstrate good sportsmanship.My question is why should the J.O.Johnson football team, and the community who support them, be penalized for the failures of the adults in charge? How is that fair? What is the lesson to students.... do everything right, but we will self report when we discover we violated our own policy (if it's convenient of course).
This is a blow to Johnson -- the Jaguars were playoff bound with a record of 6-3. This is also Johnson's last year as a school. Next year, students will move to the new Jemison High School. Keith Ward, spokesperson for Huntsville City Schools, said Johnson is taking the news hard. "They're devastated by it," he said.Is Keith Ward bragging or complaining? Of course they are devastated, but this is a devastation that didn't have to happen. The decision to "self report" will have a negative impact on student athletes who played, practiced, and prayed, the entire season. Does this mean individual records will be erased? This includes tackles, interceptions, touchdowns, passes, and any other individual accomplishment. How will this affect possible scholarship opportunities? Did Huntsville City Schools consider how their decision to "self report" would affect players future hopes and dreams?
This shouldn't be The End of an Era, it should be a new beginning. The J.O.Johnson Community doesn't deserve to have their heritage ripped away from them.
Those who make the rules get to break the rules.
If you smell something........ say something.