SAPAKOFF COLUMN: SCHSL's Goose Creek punishment hurts too many people
It might be easier to like the double-secret, closed-door South Carolina High School League if not for its widespread gutting of community spirit.
Imagine, defending the NCAA, maligned ruling body of college athletics and its rulebook, perhaps the most ridiculed manual in the free world.
But had the No. 1 ranked and defending state champion Goose Creek High School football program gone before an NCAA Infractions Committee in Lake Buena Vista or Los Angeles or some other appeal site Wednesday, it would have been worth the travel expense.
The NCAA, for all its faults, at least knows the basic rules in the hardcore discipline biz:
Slam institutions, not students.
Go after coaches, not counties.
Future postseason bans are bad enough, impacting athletes not involved in violations.
But tearing the heart out of a proud and vibrant town is too harsh.
“Punish me, not the kids,” Goose Creek head coach Chuck Reedy begged the SCHSL committee.
Yes, suspend the coach for a game or the entire playoffs.
Take Goose Creek's precious postseason gate receipts and put them in an SCHSL fund for needy schools.
But why ruin the month for undefeated players, band members and cheerleaders? Why take cash from Goose Creek businesses set to make nice playoff profits?
Ineligible player, helpful to the Goose Creek cause or not, it doesn't seem like Reedy or the school violated the NCAA's threshold definitions of unscrupulous behavior.
Lack of institutional control?
First we've heard of any trouble with the Gators.
Of course, we don't really know much about the reasoning involved here because the SCHSL ignored Freedom of Information Act law and huddled in private.
“I don't know what grounds they could use to keep the public out; it should be open,” said Bill Rogers, executive director of the S.C. Press Association. “They are destroying their credibility by keeping it behind closed doors.”
No fine for that, no penalty, no need for the SCHSL to appeal for mercy.
But maybe changes are coming.
S.C. State Representative Bakari Sellers weighed in on Twitter:
“Goose Creek being robbed is biggest reason SCHSL needs to have oversight. Will be done this session!”
More than 99.9
The mysterious SCHSL owes the good folks of Goose Creek an explanation, and owes every school in South Carolina transparency.
Yes, there is something to be said about a 9-2 vote for disqualification. Like most Goose Creek football games, it wasn't close.
But as clear as The Decision rings through a school and a town, know that Reedy spent most of the season doing the right thing. His football program includes a wide mentoring swath that focuses on academics and collaboration between players and their parents or guardians.
“We're all in this together,” Reedy said earlier this season. “So far, we've had 99.9 percent of the parents on board.”
Probably a greater percentage in tears now.
Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff