Mansfield football coach Mike Redding will be suspended for the first four games of the 2009 season and the Mansfield school system will repay $9,700 in court costs after a verbal agreement was reached with the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association Wednesday night.
The agreement, announced Thursday morning, potentially ends a dispute between the MIAA and Mansfield over the use of an ineligible football player for two games last fall. The agreement still must be approved by the MIAA’s Board of Directors at its June 4 meeting.
Mansfield was scheduled to appear before the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Council (MIAC) at 1:30 p.m. Thursday to appeal the January decision by the MIAA’s Board of Directors to suspend Redding for five games as a result of his failure to report in a timely manner the use of the ineligible player. The school was also going to appeal the MIAA decision to assess them legal fees incurred in the matter.
But attorneys for both parties reached an agreement Wednesday night, removing the appeal from the MIAC’s agenda. Instead of the five-game suspension, the MIAA agreed to four games and the two sides agreed on the $9,700 figure.
Redding will miss the opener against Dartmouth (Sept. 11), Minnechaug (Sept. 18), Franklin (Sept. 25) and Stoughton (Oct. 2). His first game back will be Sharon on Oct. 9.
Assuming the Board signs off on the agreement, it will end a process that has taken almost seven moths from start to finish.
Following a 10-1 regular season that brought Mansfield the Hockomock League title, the Hornets reported Dec. 1, the day before the MIAA football playoffs, it had used a potentially ineligible player in two games.
The MIAA canceled Mansfield’s playoff game with Bishop Feehan. Mansfield went to Superior Court in Taunton Dec. 2, received an injunction, and the game was held a day later. Mansfield won to advance to the Division 2 Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium, where it lost to Walpole.
Redding admitted in a Dec. 18 hearing at the MIAA offices that he knew there was a potential issue the day before Thanksgiving. According to the MIAA, instead of telling someone, he kept the information to himself until the following Monday. By then it was too late for North Attleboro, the Hockomock’s second-place team, to take Mansfield’s place.
Nineteen days later on Jan. 5, the MIAA ruled Mansfield must forfeit the two games the player participated in, and also forfeit its Hockomock League title and Super Bowl runner-up trophy.
The ruling, written by James Peters, the chairman of the MIAA’s Board of Directors, contained harsh criticism of Redding. It also included a statement that Redding should be punished by his school.
Mansfield, however, had other ideas and refused to discipline its coach, saying on Jan. 14 it was an internal matter between Redding and Mansfield school officials. The MIAA then imposed a five-game suspension for the 2009 season on Jan. 22 and the school was informed of the decision on Jan. 28. In addition, the MIAA was seeking reimbursement from Mansfield for the December court case.
(Update: Mansfield released the following statement late Thursday evening):
The parties agreed not to comment on the settlement terms until the entire agreement had been finalized and approved by both sides. However, given the MIAA’s subsequent statement detailing the terms of the agreement, Mansfield confirms that it has agreed to a one-game reduction in the suspension issued to Head Football Coach Michael Redding, and has agreed to reimburse the MIAA for a portion of its legal fees, up to a limit of $9,700.
The Mansfield School Committee, administration, and athletic department view the settlement agreement as an opportunity to put an end to this highly contentious situation, and return our focus to what we do best—educating and coaching the children of Mansfield.
Mansfield will continue to support Coach Redding and his dedicated service to
the students of Mansfield High School.
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- Eric Russo | @erusso22 | Div. 2 football
- Stephen Sellner | @stephen_sellner | Div. 3 football
- Andrew MacDougall | @Andy_MacDougall | Div. 4 football
- Greg Joyce | @GJoyce9 | Div. 5 football
- Lorenzo Recupero | @LorenzoRecupero | Div. 6 football
- Liz Torres | @etorres446 | Girls volleyball
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