The North Davidson softball team will not have its head coach in the dugout for the start of the 2020 season.
Kevin Berkley, who was hired in October 2017 to take the helm of the Black Knights, has been suspended for the first six games of the 2020 season and will be on probation for the entire season following the program being penalized by the NCHSAA.
The NCHSAA handed down penalties in the wake of violations that occurred during the 2019 season surrounding the use of the designated player and flex positions, according to a statement released Tuesday by Principal Jonathan Brown of North Davidson.
The team is prohibited from utilizing a designated player or flex position while Berkley is suspended as well, according to the statement. Softball practice for NCHSAA teams officially begins Feb. 12, and games start March 2.
“Although the North Carolina High School Athletic Association has expressed its appreciation as to the manner in which the North Davidson High School Athletic Director has addressed and handled this matter and appreciates and supports the action already taken by North Davidson High School and the Davidson County Schools, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association has determined that rule violations did occur involving the intentional misuse and abuse of the Designated Player and Flex positions per (National Federation of State High School Associations) rule,” the statement read.
The Black Knights finished the 2019 season at 27-1 with their only loss coming in the postseason. North Davidson, then a No. 3 seed, ended its run in the fourth round of the Class 2-A playoffs with a 3-2 loss against No. 2 Franklin on May 17.
Berkley was an assistant with the Black Knights for three seasons before his hiring as head coach. He was hand-picked to take over the program by the late Mike Lambros before Lambros died in September 2017 after a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer.
Lambros was inducted posthumously into the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2018 and led North Davidson to two state championships in 38 years as coach.