While awaiting the release of the school's official statement, Mansfield football coach Mike Redding expressed frustration with the MIAA’s recent ruling, announced Tuesday, that resulted in the Hornets forfeiting two football games and the Hockomock title for using an ineligible player this fall.
Redding and his players. (Globe File Photo)
Mansfield Superintendent Brenda Hodges, high school principal Dr. Joseph Maruszczak, and the Mansfield School Committee met Thursday, according to Redding, and a press release was expected some time today. But before that, Redding expressed his frustration for his team first and himself as well in an email last night.
“I am disappointed that our players will lose the recognition they earned this season based on the fact that our school system did not apply for a waiver. We certainly would have applied if our athletic department was aware that this was the student's fifth year. Since the self-report of ineligibility, we have successfully applied for the student's eligibility and he is participating in a winter sport and he continues to do well with his attendance and academics. This is one of the most positive aspects of this whole ordeal. The other positive aspect is how maturely our players have handled all of these challenges, for which they are responsible for none of them.
“Secondly, I am disappointed by the MIAA's characterization of me as someone who has 'disregarded' their rules. I think this is unfair and I am proud to be part of the Mansfield athletic department which has always maintained the highest standards of integrity and sportsmanship.’’
Mansfield also must surrender its runner-up trophy from the Eastern Mass. Division 2 Super Bowl - a 41-21 loss to Walpole - and the athletic program has been put on probation for one year. Because of the regular-season forfeits - against Oliver Ames and Sharon - North Attleboro was declared champion of the Hockomock League.
In a letter dated Monday, MIAA president James Peters delivered the punishment to Mansfield principal Dr. Joseph Maruszczak.
The letter stated "given Coach [Michael] Redding's continued disregard for MIAA rules and policies . . . the Board charges the Principal to create and apply corresponding consequences to the Coach. If the Board considers the penalties to be inadequate, the Board will take such additional actions as it deems appropriate."
The letter also demanded the Mansfield School Committee reimburse the MIAA for its legal costs within 60 days of the conclusion of litigation, "as a result of having to defend its member schools in this case [Rule 29]."
The MIAA forced Mansfield to forfeit two regular-season games and canceled its semifinal playoff game against Bishop Feehan when the school reported the use of a fifth-year senior, Andy Rapp, just days before the playoffs.
Mansfield was awarded an injunction from Taunton Superior Court, and the team defeated Bishop Feehan, 22-6, to land a Super Bowl berth. Mansfield stated its appeal before the MIAA Board of Directors Dec. 18.
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