Oklahoma judge to rule on disputed football game
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) An Oklahoma County judge has delayed ruling on a request by an Oklahoma City school to have part or all of a high school football playoff game replayed.
Judge Bernard Jones said after hearing arguments Wednesday that he will hand down a ruling Thursday morning.
The controversy started during a state Class 3A quarterfinal Nov. 28, when an improperly enforced penalty erased a touchdown that would have put Douglass ahead of Locust Grove with 1:04 left.
The penalty, the second sideline infraction against the Trojans, should have been enforced on the extra point or the kickoff instead of wiping out the long touchdown pass and marking off the penalty yardage from the previous spot. The Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association punished the officials involved, calling the error ''inexcusable at this level.''
Locust Grove held on to win 20-19, and Douglass appealed to the OSSAA. The association's staff declined the appeal, then its board rejected the replay options, prompting Douglass to go to court.
Douglass' representation believes Jones should rule in its favor without worrying about the possible ripple effects.
''Do I think it's worthy of a precedent? Yes,'' said Brandon Carey, Oklahoma City Public Schools legal counsel. ''Do I think it will open this Pandora's Box that people are talking about? No. these don't happen that often.''
The OSSAA countered by saying even though the situation is unfortunate, the appeals process already has taken place.
Even after Jones makes a decision, more court time might be ahead. Mark Grossman, attorney for the OSSAA, said Locust Grove has told him it plans to ''take action'' if the game is ordered to be replayed in any form. He said Locust Grove has made no contingency plans to play a game against Douglass if Jones rules in Douglass' favor.
After the appeals, Jones postponed last Friday's semifinal so he could make a ruling. He said he has been ''verbally accosted'' by some for even moving the case this far. He said he's not sure the court is the best place to make such a decision, especially because the schools have a governing body in place that already has ruled twice.
Jones said he will consider whether ''irreparable harm'' has been done to Douglass' players, and he wonders whether the OSSAA made its decision based on convenience.
Andy Fugitt, an attorney representing Douglass' side, argued that the OSSAA's choice to hold a special meeting for Douglass, even though doing so is not in its rules, was evidence that the circumstances were ''unusual,'' and cause for action in Douglass' favor.
Grossman said giving Douglass a chance to voice its opinion was the right thing to do.
''Douglass is a member school,'' he said. ''This is a significant and emotional issue for Douglass, so I don't think that the situation is helped by telling Douglass, `No, we won't sit down and meet with you, no we won't listen to you, no we won't give you an opportunity to be heard.'''
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