On the final play of a 66-6 win on August 25, coach Brian Cross of McKinley High School in Canton, Ohio, emptied the bench, including one player who turned out to be ineligible that night because his transcript arrived late.
So Cross did the right thing: He reported the mishap to the Ohio High School Athletic Association. And the result? A forfeit and and a one-game suspension for the coach.
The OHSAA rule demands teams forfeit any game using ineligible players, even if it’s only for one play. Same goes for the suspension, which is easy to understand because rules are rules, but somehow harder for me to swallow. The person who did the right thing, the one who could have easily never said a word, is the one punished.
Cross, it seems, took the suspension with grace: “We have to teach kids the right thing to do, and it was my responsibility. The fault lies with me, not anybody else.” But without its head coach, McKinley lost 24-6 this past week in its first league game. The team dropped to 0-3, and apparently, it’s fans aren’t too happy with the coach.
So what’s your take: should one play turn a 60-point win into a loss? And how would you feel if your school’s coach followed Cross and reported the mistake rather than try and sweep it under the rug?