Ridge View sanctions mean end of season

COLUMBIA – The South Carolina High School League’s Appellate Panel Meeting voted unanimously Monday afternoon to uphold the League’s decisions to sanction the Ridge View High School football team and bring the Blazers’ 2023 season to a swift close.

At issue in previous hearings, including one on the day in which Ridge View was to take on Region 5-4A opponent A.C. Flora for the region championship Friday, were the bona fide residencies of three players on the team.

The result of the unanimous six-member League Appellate Panel votes in two hearings Monday means that the Blazers must forfeit eight games, thereby making them ineligible for the 4A state playoffs.

Ridge View, which lost 31-22 to the region champion Falcons Friday night, finished second in the region. With the Blazers’ postseason nixed, the rest of the Region 5-4A teams moved up a notch.

Irmo (6-4, 2-3) moved to second place behind Flora (10-0, 5-0). Westwood (3-7, 2-3) moved to third, and Lugoff-Elgin (4-6, 1-4) moved to fourth.

Richland Northeast (2-8, 1-4) received an at-large bid in the playoffs and will travel to South Florence Friday.

At issue in Ridge View’s case was the eligibility status of three players. One player was identified as quarterback and Heathwood Hall transfer student Donald Tomlin. Tomlin’s case was the subject of the first hearing Monday, which lasted just over an hour. The two other players’ hearing lasted about an hour, with those players represented by lawyers from the Strom Law Firm. The League Appellate Panel voted unanimously in favor of the sanctions in both hearings.

In a statement released by the District Monday afternoon, Richland 2 noted that “district administrators were able to determine that the students met the district’s enrollment guidelines, which require three proofs of residency.

“The students in question were properly enrolled in the district, complete with the required documentation of residency. The athletic allegation pertains to ‘bona-fide change of residence,’ as defined by the SCHSL.”

As understood in the League Appellate Panel’s description of ‘bona-fide change of residence,’ the player’s residency within the district goes beyond the proof of residence, such as electric and water bills with the residential address printed on them, among other factors. What had to be shown conclusively was whether the player and his family unit resided in the place of residence noted by District 2. 

“The SCHSL’s ‘bona-fide change of residence’ is separate and apart from the district’s enrollment guidelines,” the Richland District 2 statement stated. “While a new student may be properly enrolled in a school/school district, he/she must meet the League’s ‘bona-fide change of residence’ definition to be eligible to participate in sports.

“District administrators could not conclude with complete certainty that the change in residency met the SCSHL’s definition of ‘bona-fide change of residency.’ Therefore, the matter was forwarded to the SCHSL for further review.”

This review happened Friday morning, the day of the Ridge View-A.C. Flora game.

The Executive Committee denied Ridge View’s request for relief of the sanctions. Ridge View appealed to the Eligibility Appeals Committee, which took up the business Monday.

Comments

  1. Gus Philpott says

    Shouldn’t be all that hard for a student to prove that he lived within the attendance boundary of Ridge View High School. It’s obviously not just a lease agreement, electric bill, gas bill. Were cars registered there? Did the student sleep there? Eat there? All his clothing there? End up home at night? Leave from home in the morning? Have friends over? Do his homework there? Do his laundry there? You know … simple things associated with “living” there. Was that the problem?

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