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South View H.S. Forfeits 1999 Football Season, Title

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CUMBERLAND COUNTY — It is a mistake that will cost thousands of dollars. A Cumberland County high school faces a huge fine for having a student on the football field last year who should not have been there.

TheSouth View High Schoolfootball team won the 1999 Mid-South Conference Football title last year. However, the title is being taken away, and all their wins are being turned into forfeits.

Principal Bob Barnes says under rules set out by theNorth Carolina High School Athletic Association, a player can only be eligible for eight semesters. Looking through a 1995-96 yearbook recently, a coach realized one student was in his ninth semester.

"If you are going to build a program on integrity and preach integrity to kids, you have to be honest yourself," Barnes says. "No one would have known, but we knew and we felt it was the right thing to do."

With just 16 days left before the 1999 statute of limitations would pass, the school turned itself in to the Association. It must now repay $17,000 in playoff gate receipts -- a costly oversight missed at the school and county level.

"It happened. The mistake was made," says football coach Randy Ledford. "The kids will remember what they did last year, and that can't be taken away from them."

The athlete was not a star player. He was on the team for one year.

Players support their principal's decision to come forward with the truth.

"It just lets us go on with it and let them know we are not out to cheat anybody or hide what we done wrong," says football player Aaron Dukes.

The $17,000 the school must repay was put aside in a rainy day fund.

The Mid-South title will now be shared between Pine Forest,Douglas Byrdand Cape Fear, who all wound up with 6-1 records after the forfeits.


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