The McCluer North football team used an ineligible player in at least six of its nine games this season.
Multiple unnamed sources identified the ineligible player as sophomore quarterback Jason Easely, who was not listed on the roster McCluer North submitted to the Missouri State High School Activities Association prior to the season. McCluer North reported statistics to STLhighschoolsports.com for Easely in six games.
McCluer North first-year athletics director James Hemphill has been placed on administrative leave by the Ferguson-Florissant School District. The athletics director is responsible for maintaining the eligibility roster.
“Upon discovering this error we self-reported to MSHSAA and have offered our opponent the opportunity to host the playoff game this weekend,” Ferguson-Florissant School District spokesperson Kevin Hampton said in a statement. “We will continue to work with MSHSAA through this process.”
The No. 3 seed in the Class 5 District 3 tournament, Parkway West (6-3) agreed to McCluer North's offer and will host the district semifinal at 7 p.m. Friday. MSHSAA has agreed to that concession.
"Outside of McCluer North offering to play the game at Parkway West and the student still being ineligible to play, I don't know of any other ramifications at this time," MSHSAA spokesperson Jason West said in an email.
Hampton said that the internal investigation is ongoing.
District 2-seed McCluer North (6-3) won five of the six games in which Easely played. According to bylaw 1.2.3 of the MSHSAA handbook, there are a minimum of three penalties for the use of an ineligible player in a team sport such as baseball, basketball, football, soccer, softball and volleyball. The first is the forfeiture of every game in which the ineligible player participated. The second is “adjust its place in conference standings and/or relinquish its place in tournament standings.” The third is to relinquish team and individual awards.
Hampton said McCluer North learned of the error last Monday and reported itself to MSHSAA the next day.
Webster Groves coach Cliff Ice believes something should be done in the wake of McCluer North's admission. The No. 4 seed in the district tournament, Webster Groves (5-4) is scheduled to play at No. 1 seed Chaminade (6-3) on Friday. Should the district tournament have been reseeded following McCluer North's report to MSHSAA, the Statesmen would have moved up in the standings.
“Inaction is a bad precedent to set,” Ice said.
Ice has a personal connection to McCluer North. Stars coach Leon McElrath III played for Ice at Webster Groves.
“I think McCluer North did a nice job of reporting it,” Ice said. “I'm glad McCluer North gets to play in the playoffs.”
But he believes something should be done by MSHSAA to immediately rectify the situation.
“I think it's bad for MSHSAA to not do anything,” Ice said. “I think it has far-reaching effects down the road.”
This is at least the fourth incident of a team self-reporting the use of an ineligible player in the last three weeks. Cardinal Ritter, Jennings and DuBourg all forfeited regular-season games after having used ineligible players.