GREENSBORO — An investigation that began after rules violations at Dudley High cost the Panthers a chance to defend their state football championship has uncovered infractions at six other Guilford County schools, including additional infractions at Dudley, that will result in fines and forfeits.
Guilford County Schools announced Tuesday that Dudley has forfeited all 10 of its victories from an unbeaten regular season and has been fined $5,000 by the N.C. High School Athletic Association. Andrews, like Dudley a defending state champion, forfeited nine games and was fined $4,500.
Southeast Guilford, Page, Ragsdale and Western Guilford did not have to forfeit games but will have to pay fines ranging from $500 to $3,500 each. The NCHSAA waived a $500 fine against Northeast Guilford.
The NCHSAA put the football programs at Dudley, Andrews and Southeast Guilford on
probation for one year and reprimanded their head coaches: Steven Davis at Dudley, Rodney McKoy at Andrews and Fritz Hessenthaler at Southeast.
Dudley dressed a junior from its junior varsity team for all 10 varsity games, in violation of association rules, and he played in at least four of those games. The school initially said he dressed for “at least” four games, which it forfeited when that violation was reported after the Panthers’ 50-21 victory over Southeast Guilford on Nov. 7.
After that revelation, Dudley, which had won 24 consecutive games, was removed from the playoffs.
Leigh Hebbard, the athletics director for Guilford County Schools, and his staff then conducted a “detailed review” of compliance with NCHSAA rules by the football programs at all 15 of its high schools. That investigation found the additional infractions at Dudley, as well as violations of the NCHSAA’s Eight Quarter Rule involving JV players at Dudley and six other schools.
The Eight Quarter Rule allows freshmen and sophomore junior-varsity players to participate in a JV game and a varsity game in the same week totaling no more than eight varsity quarters for the season “in emergency or ‘lack of depth’ situations.”
“It’s hard for us to define what is an emergency for one team versus another,” NCHSAA Commissioner Davis Whitfield said, “so we allow the schools to make that determination.”
The school must fill out a form for each football player before the student plays in a varsity game and another by the Monday after the game. Failure to fill out the pre-participation form — which must be signed by a parent, the athletics director, the head coach, and either a physician or a licensed athletics trainer — results in a $500 fine per game. Failure to fill out the post-participation paperwork for any games results in a one-time fine of $500.
Andrews did not complete the paperwork before or after nine games during a 5-7 season. Those violations resulted in the Red Raiders forfeiting those games and being fined $4,500.
Southeast Guilford did not submit pre-participation forms for seven games, resulting in fines of $3,500. Northeast Guilford, Page, Ragsdale and Western Guilford did not complete post-participation paperwork and were fined $500 each.
The fines must be paid by each school to the NCHSAA before the start of winter sports championships or the school will not be allowed to participate in the playoffs.
The NCHSAA waived Northeast’s fine “due to internal changes the school made before the football season ended,” according to the school system’s news release.
That could be a reference to the resignation of coach Donovan Jackson with two games remaining in the season, but school system officials did not respond to an email seeking to clarify that point.
Hessenthaler, Southeast’s coach, said his mistake only was submitting a pre-participation form for each Eight Quarter Rule player for the season instead of one for each game.
“The spirit of the rule is fine,” he said. “The ambiguity of the paperwork is something we all need to address.”
Athletics directors will get additional training on NCHSAA policies and procedures, the news release said, and Hebbard “will work individually with the schools that had the greatest number of issues. In addition, Hebbard will develop a districtwide protocol to handle the Eight Quarter Rule and how it is reported and tracked in the future.”