ENID, Okla. (KFOR) - On Friday, a Garfield County judge ruled a Chisholm High School senior was ineligible to play for the rest of the season.
Damien Rieman played at Enid last season while living with his grandmother. After his grandmother could no longer care for him, Rieman moved in with his cousin, who lives in Chisholm, ahead of his senior year.
Rieman applied for a hardship waiver with the OSSAA to be eligible to play right away, but the OSSAA said he didn’t qualify, making him ineligible to play for one year.
“Was not eligible as deemed by our staff, who again follows a criteria that’s been established by our membership,” OSSAA Executive Director David Jackson told News 4. “The appeals panel that reviews our decisions felt that way, as well as our board of directors.”
Rieman and the team challenged the ruling and was granted a temporary injunction in early October.
Rieman played in all five of the Longhorn’s district games, helping lead the team to an undefeated record and 2A-1 district title.
On Friday, the judge agreed with the OSSAA, ruling Rieman ineligible for the rest of the season.
“It hurts our heart that one of our teammates that’s been with us since last March doesn’t get to move forward. He’s a great teammate, and someone our guys really love, that loves being a part of our team,” Chisholm head football coach Joey Reinart said. “Our heart hurts for that part of it, we just have to look forward to tonight and keep moving forward.”
According to OSSAA rules, if a team uses an ineligible player, they have to forfeit the games he played in. The judge decided that won’t be the case for Chisholm because Rieman only played in games while the injunction was in place.
Coach Reinart says he hates that Rieman won’t be on the field with his friends and teammates, but he knows he will be there supporting the team the rest of the way.
“He’s going to be a great teammate, and he’s going to support us throughout the rest of our season here. Not having to vacate the wins was important obviously,” Rieman said. “The judge made it really clear that there will be no penalties in their order. So that’s why we did what we did along the way.”
The OSSAA says it disagrees with the judge's decision to not allow it to sanction Chisholm, but it will respect his ruling.
Nobody wins in this situation, but the OSSAA says it had no choice but to fight to enforce its rules.
“We exist to allow kids to participate, that’s what we want. We want students participating in our activities. We also exist to try to establish, as best we can, a level playing field, which means you have to have some rules in place to help maintain that,” Jackson said.