Christiana High School (Newark, Del.) football coach Virgil Rush has admitted that he allowed players that were suspended by the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association to continue playing football.
Seven Christiana players were suspended for one game by DIAA for their role in an on-field altercation during a game against A.I. du Pont (Wilmington, Del.) on Oct. 6.
The following week, Rush admitted that he allowed at least one suspended player to participate in a 31-28 loss at Mount Pleasant on Oct. 13.
Rush also admitted that he allowed at least one suspended player to participate in a 14-12 victory over Red Lion Christian (New Castle County, Del.) on Oct. 19. That win was later overturned and became a forfeit loss.
“We appealed them and we were kind of waiting on a ruling,” Rush told The News Journal on Friday. “So we did play, I’m trying to think, either one or two of the ones that we appealed.”
But Tommie Neubauer, executive director of the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association, said any appeal of the decision must come from one of the two schools involved, not a coach. On Monday, Neubauer said he had not received any appeal from Christiana.
“Regardless, I didn’t agree with the ruling,” Rush said. “So either way, I know I played some guys [who had been suspended].”
Christiana went on to defeat Glasgow (Newark, Del.) 36-0 on Oct. 29, a result that still stands. But on Nov. 1, hours before the Vikings were scheduled to play Howard (Wilmington, Del.) at Baynard Stadium, Rush was informed by Christiana school officials that he had been suspended from coaching the game that night.
When asked if he was suspended from coaching against Howard because he had allowed suspended players to play earlier, Rush said, “That’s correct.”
Rush met with the whole Christiana football team at the school about 90 minutes before the scheduled kickoff against Howard to tell them he had been suspended. The players then took a bus to Baynard Stadium, arriving only 10 minutes before the 7 p.m. kickoff.
“They were dressed in their uniforms, without their shoulder pads,” Howard coach Dan Ritter said. “They walked on the field, stretched, refused to put their shoulder pads on and said they were forfeiting the game.”
The Christiana players went back to their bus and soon left.
Rush said he did not encourage the players to forfeit against Howard. But he knew the topic was being discussed.
“I told our players, the last thing I said to them, ‘Any time you stand up for yourself in a way that is not successful in any form of protest, you have to be ready for the consequences,’ ” Rush said. “And they said they were ready.”