East Central High School will forfeit the first four games of this football season due to violations involving a transfer student. According to a statement from Tulsa Public Schools, the player was a sophomore transfer student and played for East Central before sitting out a year. According to OSSAA and TPS participation rules, a student who establishes residency at one high school must sit out a year before playing for the new school.
In a release, TPS Athletics Director Gil Cloud says it was a mistake.
"I want to make two items very clear regarding this rules violation. First, neither Coach Bobby Klinck nor anyone on his football coaching staff had any knowledge that the student athlete in question was in violation of the transfer participation rules. The staff was new this year and has performed very well to this point," said Cloud.
"Secondly, the East Central Athletics Director Gary Roberts self-reported the violation on Thursday to me," Cloud explains. "At that point we notified Principal Sean Brannon and Coach Klinck that the self-report was under review and the student athlete was to be held out of any further competition. The violation was also reported to OSSAA Executive Director Ed Sheakley. Roberts indicated to me on Friday that all of the proper administrative documentation was not correctly processed in this situation. It was inadvertent and just slipped through the cracks."
The forfeitures will be a blow to the East Central Cardinals who so far this season were undefeated. They were also ranked No. 1 in 5A. With the losses, they will now be 1-4 overall and 1-1 in district play.
East Central's football program is overcoming a year of changes in its coaching staff. Last December, coach and athletics director Travis Hill resigned for undisclosed reasons amid a TPS investigation. His successor Ben Bowling also resigned in April 2012 after he was arrested on DUI-related charges at an area fast food restaurant.