Parkway coach David Feaster said he’s “still optimistic” that the LHSAA executive committee could overturn a ruling that would force the football team to forfeit five games and miss the playoffs.
Interim executive director Jimmy Anderson ruled Wednesday that Parkway (6-2) played an ineligible player in five wins, which would result in the forfeits.
The player, a current freshman who attended Walnut Hill Middle School in Caddo Parish for two years before the family moved to Bossier Parish in May, was deemed ineligible because the move didn’t meet all of the LHSAA residency standards.
“(Anderson) told me that there were several of the rules that (the player’s family) hadn’t met, so he ruled (the player) ineligible knowing that you guys (Parkway) would have the opportunity to present your case to the (executive committee),” Feaster said. “I think the executive committee would hesitate to overturn (Anderson) in general, but he told me he would relate his concerns and doubts (about the ineligible ruling) to the committee.”
Anderson didn’t return a message left at the LHSAA office Wednesday afternoon.
Parkway will appeal the ruling, and a hearing will be held Wednesday in Baton Rouge to determine if the initial ineligible ruling stands. A hardship panel consisting of six executive committee members will hear Parkway’s case.
The player in question played a backup role in five of Parkway’s wins — Arkansas High, Bastrop, BTW, Captain Shreve and Southwood. After Acadiana won the 2010 Class 5A championship as a No. 27 seed because of five forfeited wins, the LHSAA made a rule that states that a team won’t be eligible for the playoffs if they forfeited more than a 1/3 of their contests.
The father of the player, whom The Times’ decided not to identify to protect the player’s identity, said they moved in with a then coworker in Bossier Parish in May.
He added that before the move, the player applied to Southwood, Captain Shreve and Huntington, but he decided he wanted to attend Parkway. The player never enrolled at any Caddo Parish high school, according to the father, but the father said he did receive a truancy notice from Southwood five days into this school year despite the player attending Parkway.
The father said no Parkway coach contacted or him or his son. Feaster added that Anderson told him no recruiting rules were broken, and that Anderson did not believe the player moved to Bossier Parish for athletic eligibility purposes.
“He played a basketball tournament at Elm Grove (Middle School), and he asked if we could drive by Parkway,” the father said. “After seeing how nice the outside of the school was, he said that’s where he wanted to go to school.”
According to LHSAA rules, a family must establish a “permanent residence” in the area where the player is attending school. The family is living with a former coworker of the father, and the father said he is looking for a permanent residence in south Bossier.
The family owns a house in Caddo Parish, but the father said he’s tried to sell the house in the past and is now doing minor repairs to prepare the house for sell again.
LHSAA rules state that a family can’t have two residences for the move to be considered “bona fide.”
Six standards have to be met for a “bona fide” move, including: the family can’t live in or legally claim the old residence, the old residence should be on the open market or serving as a rental property, the utilities should be disconnected in the old residence and it shouldn’t be used as the family’s mailing address.
The father explained that he owes more on the house than the property is worth, so he still owns the property although the family hasn’t lived in it for nearly five years. That debt also prevents the family from obtaining a permanent residence in Bossier before selling the house.
The family lived with the father’s parents for several years in Caddo Parish before moving to Bossier Parish.
The father said he still uses the old residence as a mailing address and on his driver’s license, but he has his paychecks and other similar mail sent to the family’s temporary residence in Bossier Parish.
At the old residence, the father said water and electricity are still turned on so repairs can be made, but other utilities like gas are not in operation, which he argues would rule out this residence as a current home.
Feaster said he and Parkway coaches do a thorough job in checking into residency questions before allowing a player to participate at any level, and he determined the family lived in Bossier Parish and would be eligible.
“We wouldn’t jeopardize our season to play one kid in a backup role,” Feaster said. “All of these rules are good if you are looking for evidence that he got recruited or moved to be eligible.
“We ask kids if they have a toothbrush in the other house, school clothes in the other house and ask them where they spend summers and weekends. We have a coach following players home that move in locally because we don’t want to take a chance on our whole season going up in flames over a technicality.”
If the player didn’t play at all this season, he would have been eligible at Parkway the following season.