Brother Martin forfeits five victories over use of academically ineligible players

Brother Martin forfeits the first five wins of their season.
Brother Martin forfeits the first five wins of their season.(Brother Martin)
Published: Oct. 26, 2021 at 1:06 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The Brother Martin Crusaders will have to forfeit five victories from their 2021 season over use of academically ineligible players.

Brother Martin entered the week 6-0, but now drop to 1-5. The academically ineligible players didn’t participate in last Friday’s win over Carencro.

Brother Martin principal Ryan Gallagher released a statement on the matter.

Last week, the LHSAA sent a member of its compliance staff to school – as it does two to three times every year – to verify our rosters for fall sports to ensure that our students are registered properly with the LHSAA, that all paperwork has been submitted, and that all participating students are academically eligible.

While looking through our student files last week, the compliance staff member brought to our attention that, in his interpretation of the academic eligibility rule, one of our student-athlete’s academic performance in the 2020-2021 school year made him academically ineligible for the first semester of this school year. We were shocked to learn of this because we’ve calculated eligibility in the same consistent manner every year. We go through compliance checks multiple times each year, and in every other instance we have been green lighted by the LHSAA regarding the manner in which we compute academic eligibility. We have never had an issue or discrepancy in this area. Every compliance staff member who has visited school has never brought this to our attention. We’ve always been told that all of our student-athletes are in good academic standing.

However, as soon as the compliance officer notified us of his interpretation, we started to work with the LHSAA on this issue. In fact, we re-computed our eligibility report in the way that the LHSAA told us that they interpret the rule, and we found one other student in our school who would also be deemed academically ineligible using the LHSAA’s interpretation, and we then self-reported that student to the LHSAA office.

We were trying to hide nothing, and we did not neglect any clerical work. We computed academic eligibility on all of our students consistently and have been operating in good faith and what we believe to be the spirit of the academic eligibility rule. In no way was this intentional; in fact, our standards for academic eligibility are the highest that they can possibly be. Our Summer Credit Recovery program is not designed in the same manner as traditional Summer School programs, which can be less stringent academically in terms of replacing failing grades. Partially due to our long-standing interpretation of the academic eligibility rule, we adopted Credit Recovery over Summer School a number of years ago. If we used the traditional Summer School model combined with the LHSAA’s interpretation of the academic eligibility rule, both of these student-athletes would be academically eligible.

As a result of all of this, the LHSAA has notified us that at the moment we must forfeit our first 5 victories of the season and that our two student-athletes are academically ineligible and will be suspended from play possibly into next season.

We are disappointed for our football team and for our school community.

Fortunately, we are still the same program with the same young men who have run out to an undefeated season. All of the tangible goals that this team has in its sights are still attainable. Our goal to win the state championship is still very much within our grasp. Our road will probably be tougher, but these young men under the leadership of Mark Bonis and his staff will find a way to overcome obstacles just as they always have.

The school is requesting an emergency appeal hearing.

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