Janesville63.6°

WIAA rules against Craig in billboard violation

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
February 14, 2008
— The Janesville Craig High School boys cross country team lost an appeal to the WIAA in the case of a student who appeared in a billboard advertisment.

The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletics Association had ruled the team’s record must be changed to omit the performance of a runner in question.


One student from Craig and one from Parker appeared in the ad in their letter jackets and received a $25 discount coupon for doing so.


Endorsing products and receiving compensation are violations of an athlete’s amateur status.


The district appealed and won in the case of the Parker football and Bluebirds hockey teams because the player involved in those games did not influence the outcomes.


The district appealed the cross country team’s penalty based on “mitigating circumstances.”


The WIAA rejected that appeal.


The WIAA’s ruling is different from its original ruling, said Steve Johnson, director of administrative services for the school district.


Originally, the Craig team simply moved down in the standings of three meets by subtracting the contribution of the runner who violated the rule.


But the WIAA on Wednesday told the district that Craig is removed from the sectional and state meets altogether. So Craig is no longer the 2007 sectional champion. Its 18th place at state also disappears.


All other teams stay where they were in the standings of those meets, WIAA officials told Johnson. They do not move up.


The Big Eight Conference meet is a different question because it is under conference, not the WIAA, control.


“So the conference will have to decide what happens to us,” Johnson said. Craig finished fifth at conference.


As for the players’ penalties, the two students in the ad apparently either were suspended or lost their eligibility to play.


Johnson would not describe the students’ penalties because doing so would tend to identify them, and that would violate laws about revealing identities of students who are disciplined.


Janesville officials have said the students apparently didn’t realize they were violating WIAA rules. That argument apparently has no validity with the WIAA.


“We remain unable to recognize any cogent explanation that would mitigate this violation,” WIAA assistant director Tom Shafranski wrote in his letter to the district.


Shafranski also cited WIAA rules that the administration of each school is responsible for “educating and guiding students in the rules of eligibility.”


Janesville officials have said the rules are given to every athlete and discussed at required athletic-code meetings.


“It is possible to appeal, but we’re not likely to do so. They’ve kind of made their decision. We have no more arguments to make,” Johnson said.


“This is one of those unfortunate lessons that sometimes occur, but it seems that the athletes involved and the teams involved and the community have responded in a positive way, and hopefully we’ll avoid this kind of thing in the future,” Johnson said.



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