The athletic director at a North Carolina school has resigned amid an eligibility controversy that forced one of the state’s top baseball teams to forfeit the majority of its wins.
Topsail (Hampstead, N.C. ) AD Barry West has stepped down from his role with the school, according to multiple reports. Topsail baseball coach Aaron Rimer confirmed the news to WWAY and multiple outlets.
The announcement comes in the wake of an investigation into the school following the forfeiture of 15 wins due to an ineligible player that ultimately left the Pirates out of the Class 3A state playoffs.
The player, Topsail senior Alex Postma, suffers from severe anxiety and is non-verbal. Despite being on the roster for most of the year, he was deemed ineligible due to an academic concern from the 2017 Fall semester. The Pirates were forced to forfeit 16 wins in which he was in uniform, turning their season’s record of 17-6 to 1-22.
“Alex usually struggles this time of the year anyway, and with this on top of it, it doesn’t help,” Michael Postma, Alex’s father, recently told the North State Journal. “We’re trying to get him through to graduate, but he’s been sleeping a lot and not being very productive. We’re kind of just pushing him to the finish line and hoping he can get through it.”
As the Journal reports, the parties involved are not quite sure why Alex was ruled ineligible. Per the Journal, a meeting between Alex’s mother, Julie Postma, and Topsail principal Berry Simmons the day after the ruling “provided little clarity.”
Michael Postma told the Journal that he believes his son’s problems can be traced to a “crash” Alex experienced early in the school year that caused him to fall behind on coursework and — despite a move to an online program — ultimately drop two of those classes.
“The anxiety hits him, and cognitively he cannot function very well,” said Michael Postma. “It’s hard to even get him out of bed. He internalizes, then he starts spiraling negatively. Even the simplest of tasks become very difficult. He reasons his way out of them in his own mind.”
After not playing baseball for three years, Alex Postma tried out for the team. And he made it. As his father told the Journal, it was on his own merits that Alex was chosen, despite having not played throughout high school.
“He’s been made out to be some kind of charity case. He’s not,” Michael Postma said. “He made the team on his merit. The coaches and players had no idea what he was dealing with, and he’s a good ballplayer. He made the team, and we were thrilled.”
Alex saw limited action, batting three times with one RBI but also pinch running. That all changed with the ruling, which the Journal reports likely stemmed from the two online classes that Postma was unable to finish in the fall. The clerical error wasn’t caught until after the season had begun.
As tough to take as the decision was, the members of the Topsail squad appear to be behind their teammate.
“The kid didn’t even know he was ineligible,” senior Colby Emmertz told the Wilmington Star News earlier this month. “It wasn’t his fault.”