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Judge: Terry Sanford will play in the playoffs

Posted November 12, 2009

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— Cumberland County Judge Jack Thompson issued a temporary injunction Thursday allowing Terry Sanford High School to play in this weekend's football playoff game.

Thompson met with attorneys representing some players and the North Carolina High School Athletic Association Thursday afternoon.

"We are very disappointed in the judge's decision in this matter, but we are planning to be in court on Monday morning. With the case pending, it is appropriate that we have no further comment at this time," NCHSAA Executive Director Charlie Adams said Thursday.

The NCHSAA decided Monday that Terry Sanford must forfeit its nine regular-season wins after the school self-reported the use of an ineligible player. The school was then shut out from Friday's 4-A state playoff game against Pine Forest High School.

Superintendent Frank Till Jr. said the school found that one football player had not met the minimum requirements in the previous semester.

NCHSAA scholastic requirements state a student must have passed a “minimum load of work during the preceding semester to be eligible at any time during the present semester.”

If a student is not academically eligible at the beginning of the semester, he is not eligible at any time during the semester, according to the NCHSAA.

The only exception is a student who receives an incomplete, which causes him to fail to meet the scholastic requirements. The student’s eligibility would be restored if the course is completed.

NCHSAA relies on self-reporting system NCHSAA relies on self-reporting system

An attorney for the players argued on Thursday that the NCHSAA did not tell them why the team can't play in the playoffs.

“We wanted to make sure that due diligence had been served with these guys…and that they had the opportunity they’d worked so hard for,” said Jim Arp, Terry Sanford Booster Club president.

Thompson planned another meeting with attorneys for both sides at 10 a.m. Monday.

It is unclear how prepared the team will be for the game against Pine Forest. NCHSAA rules state that once a team’s season is over, they cannot practice.

“My understanding was that they have not (been practicing), but that's something we'd have to examine after all this is done. Technically their season would have been over, but I don't think we'll deal with that until this other has transpired,” said Rick Strunk, associate executive director of NCHSAA.

The player accused of being ineligible will be allowed to play in the game, officials said.

Terry Sanford head football coach Wayne Inman said the game will be played at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Jordan Vann, a senior on the team, said the team is blessed to have opportunity to play.

"We're just excited to play the game. That's the bottom line," Pine Forest Principal Cindy McCormic said. "Our coaches and players have been practicing as hard as always and have a great attitude. They've been great sports about it."

If Terry Sanford wins the game and the judge rules in favor of the NCHSAA, Pine Forest will not move on, said Que Tucker, NCHSAA deputy executive director. The team scheduled to play Terry Sanford in the next round would receive a bye.

Terry Sanford principal replaced in midst of transcript probe

The judge’s decision came the same day the Fayetteville school’s embattled principal was removed from her position.

Diane Antolak, who was principal since 2006, was suspended with pay last week and is being investigated for possibly tampering with the transcripts of student athletes. She was still an employee of the school system Thursday, spokeswoman Wanda McPhaul said.

Mindy Vickers, the principal of Cross Creek Early College High School, was named to replace Antolak at Terry Sanford.

NCHSAA relies on system of self-reporting

Statewide, 105 violations have been reported to the NCHSAA this school year, NCHSAA officials said. Twenty-five percent of those violations reported have led to a team forfeiting a game or match.

The NCHSAA relies on a system of self-reporting. If schools don't turn themselves in, officials say, someone else will.

"Most of the time the schools do the right thing and police themselves and turn themselves in," said Que Tucker, NCHSAA deputy executive director.

Tucker has seen several scandals rock schools, including one at West Charlotte where at least two football players falsified their home address.

"It tears up a community. It tears up a school," Tucker said.

Of the violations reported this year, 27 involved ineligible players. A school with an ineligible player could face a $500 fine. If the school reports the violation themselves, the fine can be cut in half.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • Garnerwolf1 Nov 13, 2009

    I understand from reading the posts here that this HS is an an affluent area. I'm gonna get fried here, but looking at the news last night, the kid in question appeared to be decked out in his finest thuggery, and at least one of the group that appeared to come in with him was, shall we say, probably not dressed up for the church social. Obviously the player in question attends the school, but is he from that area? Does he actually live in that school's district? Does anyone know?

  • hpr641 Nov 13, 2009

    sorry, I somehow tuncated my message. In the span of

  • Air Biscuit Nov 13, 2009

    This is Terry Sanford High School we're talking about. Rich, old money. No doubt the judge has family that either attended or is currently attending.

    The TSHS district has enough cash to buy any judge.

    If this had been a school in a poor district (Cape Fear, Gray's Creek, EE Smith, Westover) it would not have gone this way.

    This is not the first time TSHS students and administrators have bought their way out of something.

    Fayetteville's sportswriter Earl Vaughan wrote in today's paper about the grief from the Maxwell death being so bad that the school needed the emotional boost from being able to play tonight....how horrible to use a family tragedy to excuse corruption.

  • hpr641 Nov 13, 2009

    Imagine if PFHS loses, but the judge finds against TSHS ... Officially, since TSHS would then have to forfeit their victory, PFHS would've been eliminated in the first round despite finishing the playoffs 1-0. I feel for the PFHS guys: In the span of

  • hkypky Nov 13, 2009

    The students transcript has not been published that I have seen. However, what has been clearly stated by WRAL and others is what the rules are.

    There are classes, there are students, and there are grades ... and they were for a "previous semester"

    What is so difficult about this? let alone why does it need to be taken any further than the school system and NCHSAA?

    The rules and the students grades are what they are.

    Read the rules, review the transcript, and make the decision.

  • Warriors1216 Nov 13, 2009

    The judge should have deferred the case to another judge. According the Cumberland County Schools web site, the address for a home owned by a Jack A. Thompson is within the Terry Sanford school district. How many parents of players does he know?? Sounds like a conflict of interest to me.

  • jbyrd Nov 13, 2009

    "Sorry to disappoint those of you who automatically think a Judge has been bribed just because the Judge issues a ruling that you don't like or, more commonly, that you don't understand."

    Don't think anyone said a word about a bribe, that's not how it works. Just a phone call from one of his "buds" for a little favor. THAT'S POLITICS

  • timothycapwell Nov 13, 2009

    Yeah, Judge Jack Thompson is a paragon of virtue and ethics. He's the judge that refused to let a wrongly accused man (Lee Wayne Hunt) get a new trial after a lawyer, Staples Hughes, confessed that his now-dead client (Jerry Cashwell) confessed to the killings for which Lee Wayne Hunt was convicted. Spare me the defense of the judge.

    This ruling reeks of local politics gone wild.

  • clintoflannagan Nov 13, 2009

    Judge Jack Thompson is one of the best Judges in this State. The reason this is before him is because someone obviously file a request for a Temporary Restraining Order. The standard for this type of temporary relief is rather low. It is intended maintain the status quo on a temporary basis and give both sides time to prepare for a full hearing, which has been scheduled for Monday.

    Sorry to disappoint those of you who automatically think a Judge has been bribed just because the Judge issues a ruling that you don't like or, more commonly, that you don't understand.

  • wlfpack82 Nov 13, 2009

    As a high school teacher/coach this issue hits really close to home. It angers me that there are people who are condemning all of the players and parents in this situation. There are PLENTY of good-natured student athletes who go to school for an education and participate in athletics. For some, athletics serves as a motivator for their academics. As a society we get angry when we witness stereotyping and prejudice. Let's be careful not to sterotype our young people at the same time. Just because they are athletes does not mean they are stupid, unteachable, or a lost cause. I was a 4 year letter winner in baseball and football in high school yet went to school on an academic scholarship. Let's support our young people and not ridicule them for this issue.

    I do feel sorry for those young men on the team. This is a terrible sitiuation for them, but they have to understand that in a TEAM the actions of one affects the entire team. They should not be playing tonight.