The ILH denied St. Francis’ appeal to overturn its decision to forfeit all of its football games in Division II this season due to the use of an ineligible player.
On the field, the Saints finished the regular season 9-0 overall and 8-0 in ILH Division II. They were on the verge of playing in the state tournament for the first time in school history before last Friday’s announcement that they had used an ineligible player.
Pac-Five will now represent the ILH in the Division II state tournament beginning Nov. 10.
Casey Asato, the St. Francis head of school, received official notice from the ILH late Thursday afternoon that his appeal was denied.
In part, Asato was asking that instead of forfeiting the eight regular-season games, the school should be forfeiting just the five games the ineligible player played in.
In the notice received by Asato, the ILH wrote that it considered “the entire period that the student (was) a participant on the eligibility roster” in making its decision.
Asato, however, has a different interpretation of the rule in the ILH handbook, which states, “the penalty shall be the forfeiture of the contest or contests by the team that used the ineligible player during the player’s period of ineligibility.”
Asato questions the term “used” in the rule because the player did not play in three of St. Francis’ eight league games.
“One of the things I urge athletics on Oahu to do is clarify the governing authority among the member schools immediately for the sake of football, athletics in general and student-athletes. There is confusion and it needs to be addressed going into the second year of the (OIA-ILH football) pilot program and shared with member schools. I think there’s cleanup to be done on all levels.
“To me, it’s for the sake of the kids that there is clarification and no confusion. As it stands now, it’s open to interpretation.”
The whole process Asato went through in trying to do the right thing was also filled with confusion, he said.
“On Friday afternoon (last week), the executive director (Blane Gaison) and assistant executive director (Georges Gilbert) came to my office and basically informed us verbally that we had violated rule 10.2A.
No paperwork was done at the time, and everything — including Asato’s agreement to forfeit eight games — was verbal.
After looking closer at the rule, Asato filed his appeal Saturday morning, but did not get official notification from the league about the initial forfeiture until Tuesday.
“I didn’t get written notification until Tuesday at 2:40 p.m., despite repeated requests,” Asato said. “That was less than 24 hours before we were supposed to meet with the appeals board.”
Asato, in his appeal, offered various ways to settle the issue, including having the teams finish the season (play the two games, one by each team, that were canceled due to Hurricane Lane). All were denied.
“This was not about challenging the allegations,” he said. “We made an oversight and we take full responsibility for it and we’re taking steps so that it never happens again. This is about the kids who had an 8-0 record. It’s not about us adults.”
A call to Gilbert for ILH comment was not immediately returned Friday afternoon.