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Judge releases decision in Douglass, Locust Grove ‘botched call’ high school football game

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OKLAHOMA CITY –  Oklahoma County Judge Bernard Jones has ruled on Douglass High School’s request to have the final minute of its game with Locust Grove replayed.

Just before 9 a.m. Thursday, the judge denied the request.

The game stands, and the last-minute of the game will not be replayed.

This means Locust Grove High School  moves on in  the playoffs.

Here is an excerpt from Judge Bernard Jones’ ruling:

“Though a seemingly harmless and benign request rooted in equity,

ere is simply no way to fully and completely replicate the events and conditions of the disputed quarterfinal in such a way that would alleviate any and all anxiety or question of fairness.

Unfortunately, whether in terms of the weather of field conditions, player fatigue, the actions of the coaches or referees, etc., on the day of the quarterfinal, there is no best way to right this wrong

without creating even greater uncertainty or inviting further error.

Undoubtedly, the pursuit of further judicial action would result in the frustration of the world of athletics as we know it.   This slippery slope of solving athletic contests in court instead of on campus will inevitably usher in a new era of robed referees and meritless litigation due to disagreement with or disdain for decisions of gaming officials — an unintended consequence which hurts both the court system and the citizens it is designed to protect. “

The Oklahoma City Public School District has issued a statement in response to the ruling.

“From the beginning, the Oklahoma City Public School District (OKCPS) has been clear that we have a responsibility to support student athletes and

do what is right. The Oklahoma Secondary Schools Athletic Association (OSSAA) game official admittedly applied the wrong penalty and OKCPS followed the proper legal process to request the wrong be made right. Unfortunately, the outcome of the hearing did not produce the results we hoped for. The judge’s decision presents an opportunity for the OSSAA to review and address the processes and procedures that effect every student athlete in Oklahoma. We hope to work with the OSSAA and identify solutions for the future to make sure the incident that occurred during the Douglass versus Locust Grove playoff game doesn’t happen to other student athletes in Oklahoma.” –Keith Sinor, OKCPS District Athletic Director

Following the ruling, the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Athletic Association said it has scheduled the semi-final game between Heritage Hall and Locust Grove for Friday, Dec. 12 at Sapulpa High School.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

“Both schools were contacted, and both agreed that we could proceed with the semi-final game on that date,” said Ed Sheakley, executive director of the OSSAA. “Throughout this controversy, we have been focused on minimizing any delay to the completion of the 3A playoffs, and avoiding interference in other activities and semester finals for member schools and their students. We are grateful that both schools cooperated in scheduling the semi-final game to be played as soon as possible.”

“This controversy was a difficult one.  A lot of strong feelings and strongly-expressed opinions were involved, but a respectful tone was maintained throughout the process with OSSAA’s staff, Board of Directors and before the District Court. The OSSAA will continue to work cooperatively with all our member schools to resolve issues expeditiously,” he added.

 

 

OKLAHOMA CITY (Dec. 10)-  A judge is still deciding how to proceed in the case of an Oklahoma City high school football game that ended in controversy.

In the 3A quarterfinal game against Locust Grove, a Douglass touchdown was negated by officials after they called a sideline penalty on a coach with 64 seconds left to play.

However, the penalty should have been enforced on the next play following the touchdown.

The error gave Locust Grove a one-point victory over Douglass, 20-19, and a spot in the state semifinals.

OSSAA officials have admitted the referees made a mistake and the touchdown should have counted.

OSSAA apologized after the game, stating that the crew has been reprimanded and removed from further OSSAA playoff games.

The Oklahoma City Public School District then asked the OSSAA to allow Douglass and Locust Grove to replay those critical 64 seconds.

That original request was denied but a district court stepped in.

School officials filed an injunction and a district court judge granted a restraining order and a full hearing on how to proceed.

That ruling put a halt on the 3A playoff series.

Douglass High School was then put on probation after a fan allegedly punched an official at the 3A quarterfinal game.

A police report was filed in the case and the fan was banned from all Oklahoma City Public School events.

If the team remained on probation, Douglass' season would be over.

The legal battle picked back up when the OSSAA voted to remove the school from probation to a warning status.

Board members say Douglass was taken off probation because the fan who allegedly punched a game official was not a student.

On Wednesday afternoon, the case went before a judge.

During the hearing, the executive director of the OSSAA was the only witness called to testify.

In fact, the judge spent over an hour questioning attorneys for both parties on whether this case should even be in his courtroom.

At one point, he asked if the court should be in the business of deciding the outcome of a football game.

The judge finished by saying no matter what happens, precedents will be set and he knows that he must proceed with caution.

On Wednesday afternoon, the judge said that no matter what he decides, there will be no winners in this case.

The OSSAA believes that if the judge rules in favor of Douglass High School, Locust Grove will then file legal action.

His ruling is now expected to come down around 10 a.m. on Thursday.

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