Local News

Terry Sanford wins playoff game

Posted November 14, 2009 7:18 p.m. EST
Updated November 15, 2009 6:09 p.m. EST

— Terry Sanford High School, deemed ineligible to play earlier in the week, won its game Saturday in the first round of playoffs against Pine Forest. Cumberland County Judge Jack Thompson made the game possible after he issued a temporary injunction in the case Thursday.

His decision came four days after the North Carolina High School Athletic Association decided that Terry Sanford must forfeit its nine regular-season wins because the school self-reported the use of an ineligible player.

Superintendent Frank Till Jr. said the school learned 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.

After meeting Thursday afternoon with attorneys representing some players and the NCHSAA, Thompson decided to allow the school to play in the playoffs.

"We are very disappointed in the judge's decision in this matter," NCHSAA Executive Director Charlie Adams said Thursday.

Players and supporters of the team rallied behind Thompson's decision Saturday before the game.

“Decisions like these should be made on the football field, not made in some board room, and not made in some court room,” Jim Arp, Terry Sanford Booster Club president, said.

“It is not their fault. They shouldn't have been pulled out of the playoffs in the first place,” Ethel Johnson, mother of a player, said. "They deserve to be out there on the field doing what they do."

However, some Pine Forest supporters were not OK with the game going forward.

“Pine Forest is being penalized. If they happen to lose this game, they don't get a chance to continue. And they've already forfeited Terry Sanford, right? So why are we playing them?” John Davis Jr., a Pine Forest supporter, said before Saturday’s game.

Thompson planned another meeting Monday with attorneys for both sides.

Terry Sanford beat Pine Forest 49 to 28 Saturday. If the judge's final ruling is 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.