The WPIAL has stripped five victories from Washington High School’s football team because of the use of an ineligible player.
The decision, announced Tuesday morning, means Wash High’s football team is not eligible to participate in the WPIAL playoffs.
Washington High School will appeal to the PIAA, and the appeal is expected to be heard and acted upon by Friday.
Senior Quorteze Levy was in his ninth semester of varsity eligibility, and the PIAA permits only eight unless a waiver request is granted before participation in varsity events. Levy repeated ninth grade at Washington after transferring from Kalamazoo, Mich., where he enrolled in school but did not earn credits. At Monday’s board of control meeting, the WPIAL also forced Wash High to forfeit an Oct. 4 victory over Brownsville because of the use of another ineligible player, junior lineman Zach Blystone. The Blystone case was separate from the Levy situation.
The WPIAL did grant a hardship waiver request for Levy, but Tim O’Malley, executive director of the WPIAL, said that allows Levy eligibility only from Monday through the remainder of the school year and does not cover the games Levy participated in earlier this season. He said the bylaws do not address the question of retroactively awarding a waiver.
“He’s ineligible for the games he played in; the rule clearly states that,” said O’Malley. “The rules say we couldn’t apply the (waiver) retroactively. We’re sympathetic to the young fellow, but we have to follow our rules.”
PIAA executive director Dr. Robert Lombardi said he was aware of the case but not the details of the appeal. He said he would not comment until receiving the appeal. Lombardi said he didn’t know of any waiver being applied retroactively since he became executive director more than a year ago.
Washington discovered Levy was in his ninth semester Friday and reported it to the WPIAL. Levy was held out of that night’s nonconference victory over Freeport.
“We’ll appeal the forfeit based on the case that the WPIAL approved the waiver,” said Dr. Roberta DiLorenzo, superintendent of Washington School District.
“We want them to grant it retroactively.”
DiLorenzo said the school district will review the process that tracks students’ eligibility and make whatever changes deemed necessary to make sure this does not happen again.
“We made a mistake,” said DiLorenzo. “We missed it. It’s a shared responsibility. We’re a people organization, and we’re open to human error. We’ll work through this. It’s heartbreaking.”
Before Monday’s WPIAL Board of Control meeting, Washington had a 7-1 overall record and a 6-1 mark in the Class AA Interstate Conference. At the meeting, the board forced Wash High to forfeit one game because of the Blystone ineligibility – the conference game against Brownsville – which brought its record to 6-2. Now, it’s 1-7 overall and 0-7 in the conference. Washington finishes the regular season with a conference game at Waynesburg.
Teams that gained a forfeit win and 10 Gardner Points were Greensburg Central Catholic, Charleroi, Yough, Jeannette and Brownsville.
The WPIAL football pairings meeting is Monday.