Teams win appeal in billboard incident
The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletics Association had ruled that the joint Craig/Parker high school team would have to forfeit two of its games after a player appeared in a billboard advertisement and received a $25 discount from the advertiser last fall.
The Janesville School District appealed the ruling, and the WIAA announced Thursday that it has overturned the forfeitures, according to a district news release.
A Parker High School football game that had been declared a forfeit for the same reason also will remain a win, the WIAA ruled.
“It’s good news for us, and I’m glad for the students’ sakes and the teams’ sakes that the WIAA granted this appeal,” said Steve Johnson, director of administrative and human services for the district.
Some Craig High School boys cross-country results also were to be changed because of the billboard incident, but the WIAA hasn’t yet ruled on that appeal, according to the news release.
The WIAA’s initial decision would have put the Bluebirds in second place in the Big Eight Conference, behind Middleton. The new ruling puts the Bluebirds back in first place.
The Bluebirds won their game against the East Side Lakers on Thursday night.
The ruling does not affect the status of the two players who appeared in the billboard ad. Johnson said one of the players is now eligible to play, and the other is not.
Johnson said he could not describe the details of those students’ status without revealing their identities, something he said he is forbidden by law to do.
In both the football and hockey games, the district argued that the player involved played few minutes in games that had already been decided by wide margins.
The appeal of the cross-country team’s record is on different grounds. Johnson said the district is asking the WIAA to consider “mitigating circumstances” related to the billboard incident, but he could not describe what those circumstances are.
Parents, students and the advertiser, Throndsen Lettering, all said they were not aware they were violating the WIAA rules, according to correspondence between the district and the WIAA.
In addition, the $25 discount was given as an afterthought, not an inducement to appear in the ad. One of the students did not even use the discount, and the other one repaid it after it became known there was a violation.
Johnson said he did not know when the WIAA would make a ruling on the cross-country case, but he hopes it’s soon.
“I’m concernd about the two athletes,” Johnson said, because of the pressure they must feel with matters being unresolved.
“I’m sure they feel badly enough,” Johnson said, and once all matters are resolved, everyone can either rejoice or help the students move on to the “healing phase.”
“That’s what it’s about, ... owning up to a mistake. And we try to teach all our athletes that when you do so, more times than not, positive things will occur,” Johnson said.