The St. Francis Saints football team, which finished 9-0 overall and 8-0 in ILH Division II, is forfeiting its season.
The issue revolves around an ineligible player who was a fifth-year senior.
“Due to misinformation in the admissions process five years ago, this fell through the cracks,” said Dr. Casey Asato, who became head of St. Francis in August. “It was brought to our attention and we need to abide by the regulations of the ILH. It was the right thing to do.”
The Saints had clinched a state-tournament berth for the first time since starting up a varsity football program in 2013.
Under the OIA-ILH football alliance, the ILH’s lone bid in the D-II state tournament goes to whichever team finishes higher in D-II between St. Francis and Pac-Five.
The Wolfpack, who thought their season ended last Friday with a 14-6 win over Waialua, are unpacking the pads and plan to practice today for the first time since that game, according to a source.
Sources also said the Saints’ ineligible player was a ninth-grader in 2014 who was playing junior varsity football at Aiea. A copy of Aiea’s 2014 eligibility list with the player’s name on it was brought to the attention of the ILH on Thursday.
When asked on a phone call today, Aiea head coach Wendell Say said he did not know anything about this issue.
The player then transferred to St. Francis and, according to sources, was held back into the eighth grade. He played for the intermediate football team (which is open to athletes in seventh, eighth and ninth grades) in 2015 and then played for St. Francis’s higher level teams (JV and varsity) in the 2016, 2017 and 2018 seasons, making him ineligible as a fifth-year senior.
A rule in the ILH handbook states: “The eligibility of a student who transfers shall be based on his or her academic record at the school from which he or she transfers.”
A player has four years to complete his eligibility once he enters ninth grade.
A source said red flags were initially raised when the player was recognized as a former Aiea JV player from 2014 during a televised St. Francis vs. Pac-Five game at Aloha Stadium on Sept. 15.
When contacted today, HHSAA executive director Chris Chun said his office has not received a report about the ineligible player from the ILH or St. Francis.
In 2010, the Kahuku football team was prohibited from playing in the OIA playoffs and state Division I tournament for using an ineligible player. The Red Raiders were 10-0 at the time of the decision.
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