First Presbyterian Christian Academy boys’ basketball team’s quest for a fourth state title came to an abrupt end when the Georgia Independent School Association deemed one of the Highlander players ineligible to play on Monday.
Highlander coach David Jones said he received word of the GISA’s decision while he was in Atlanta Monday.
“They are distraught and really hurt,” coach Jones said after breaking the news to his players. “I had to tell them late yesterday (Tuesday) when we were getting ready to go to practice.”
Jones said FPCA school administrators filled out eligibility forms for all their players. Those forms, included age, birth dates, grade levels, the number of credits accumulated and other pertinent information on the players. The forms were then sent to the GISA for review and certification.
Jones said the school provided the correct birth date and age of the player in question.
“And as it is the state accepted and approved him as being certified and eligible to play,” Jones said of the Highlander recently deemed ineligible. “He played an entire soccer season. He played and entire basketball season before this came up.”
With the approval and certification coming from the GISA Jones said there was no reason to believe there was a problem.
The GISA issued a written statement confirming FPCA had sent the player’s correct information.
The statement read, “First Presbyterian Christian Academy submitted to GISA the birthdays of their basketball players for the 2010 – 2011 season. First Presbyterian Christian Academy provided the correct birth date of the player, March 15, 1991, to GISA. The GISA rules require the student “not attain his or her 19th birthday prior to May 1st of the preceding year of participation.” This student turned nineteen (19) years old on March 15, 2010, six (6) weeks prior to the May 1st deadline and was, therefore, ineligible. This fact was not called to the attention of GISA or First Presbyterian Christian Academy until last week. First Presbyterian Christian Academy did not provide false information to GISA and is not guilty of any dishonesty in this matter. However, the student is ineligible. In fairness both to First Presbyterian Christian Academy and to the other schools in the State Basketball Tournament, GISA has ruled that First Presbyterian Christian Academy’s last game in the State Basketball Tournament must be forfeited as the penalty, though its season and Regional title will remain intact.”
Jones said his players are not the only ones distraught over the news.
“Here is my attitude on that. I’m hurt, disappointed but still when you know you didn’t intentionally do anything wrong you got to get your head up and keep going,” Jones said. “There are going to be a lot of things in your life that go wrong and make you feel like you’ve been treated unjustly. You can either roll over in a ditch and cry or you can get your head up, your shoulders back and keep going.”