Goose Creek football team loses appeal for second time in a week

Goose Creek Gator supporters settle in Monday for the football team's appeal hearing at the High School League office in Columbia. Buy this photo

COLUMBIA — For the second time in less than a week, the High School League’s executive committee voted to uphold league commissioner Jerome Singleton’s ruling to ban the Goose Creek Gators from the Division II-AAAA state playoffs.

The Executive Comittee on Monday voted 14-0 to uphold Singleton’s decision. A motion was made to grant Goose Creek mercy, but that was shot down by a 12-2 vote.

It was an emotional end to an emotional day. The Gator faithful didn’t take the news well.

“I hope you are governed by a higher power,” one Goose Creek supporter yelled at a member of the executive committee.

Danita Brown stood in the middle of the High School League conference room and told the group they were sending the wrong message to the kids.

Princiapl Jimmy Huskey said the school hasn’t ruled out returning to court. The school will hold a press conference at 1 p.m. Tuesday.

Huskey said the school asked for mercy but got the death penalty.

For now, Bluffton High School will travel to Northwestern for a 7:30 p.m. third-round game on Friday.

Goose Creek’s season is over.

”It’s always a tough decision,” Singleton said. “The members of the executive committee are educators and are passionate about children.”

Last week, Singleton ruled the Gators used an ineligible player and banned the Gators from the playoffs. The following day, the executive committee upheld his decision during a closed session in violation of the state’s Freedom of Information Act.

The Gators took their case to court on Friday, and Circuit Judge Roger Young granted a temporary restraining order that allowed the school to play Friday night’s game against Bluffton, a 35-25 Gators’ victory. Young also ruled the executive committee had to convene in open session today to reconsider the eligibility requirements based on its rules.

The Goose Creek football player declared ineligible by the High School League is a foster child who has special needs. He was homeless at times and had been in and out of facilities. He attended six schools before finally ending up at Goose Creek.

School officials reported the violation when a transcript showed he had been credited with high school classes four years ago at Woodmont High School, located near Greenville.

The day after the executive committee upheld Singleton’s decision, Goose Creek officials discovered the student wasn’t at Woodmont High his freshman year in 2008. He was actually incarcerated at a facility called Generations Home in Simpsonville, and was not allowed to leave the premises. Goose Creek officials say he never stepped foot on the Woodmont campus. The classes credited to Woodmont were actually taken at the Generations Home.

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