GREENSBORO, N.C. — Dudley High School’s appeal was denied Wednesday morning, making the varsity football team ineligible to play in football playoffs.
The school system reported four ineligible junior varsity football players dressed out for the varsity football game on Nov. 7. One participated in the game.
Coach Steven Davis said the junior varsity season ended Nov. 6. He thought the players were allowed to then play with the varsity team. But North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) rules state students can't play in more than one game in a week, according to the school system.
Football leaders at Dudley said there are conflicting rules on the books and insist this was an “honest mistake.” Coach Davis has offered to the NCHSAA to step down from coaching in the playoffs if the students are allowed to play.
“It was my mistake,” he said. "It was just one of those things where I overlooked the rule and, you know, made a costly mistake for my football team."
Football players and students are taking the news hard, he added. Their goal was to win back-to-back 4-A state championships after not losing a game in two years.
"They're feeling very distraught right now. A lot of them are crying and they're taking it real hard. As well as the Dudley family itself," he said, discussing the community's support for the school and football program.
Guilford County Schools in a press release Wednesday afternoon stated that Dudley High School will send an appeal to the NCHSAA full board after the executive committee denied the initial appeal Wednesday.
Rick Strunk, associate commissioner of communications with the NCHSAA, confirmed to FOX8 Wednesday that a private conference call began at 9 a.m. this morning, followed by committee deliberations.
Guilford County Schools officials confirmed that Superintendent Mo Green recused himself from participating in the appeals committee.
Athletic Director Joe Godette said losing at least four potential home games during playoffs also meant losing money. He estimated about thirty to forty thousand dollars, including tickets and concessions that the NCHSAA and teams would have split.
GCS Director of Activities, Athletics, and Drivers Education Leigh Hebbard said, "I don't see this as one of those widespread issues that was going to necessarily need some new initiative in Guilford County to address it. I think our athletic directors do a fair job already of overseeing and monitoring what's going on at their schools."
He said in this instance, the mistake slipped through the cracks.
Coach Davis said his message to the Dudley team was simple: "We made a mistake. Let's own up to it. I don't want to see any of you walking around with your head down."