Lately, Lakeside High football coach Jody Grooms has been raked over the coals for running an illegal receiver onto the field in the last game of the season.
And now the community is waiting to see what the Georgia High School Association has to say about Greenbrier High School coach Scott Chadwick, who apparently ran at least 13 illegal players onto the field all season long.
All of this comes after a significant upgrade to the county's athletic programs. Clearly, we aren't getting what we thought we were paying for.
This latest scandal bubbled for several weeks as rumors leaked out regarding "lapses" in medical records on file for football players. The problem initially was noticed when basketball coaches, bringing in multi-sport players after football season, discovered several of the athletes didn't have up-to-date forms verifying that they had passed physical exams.
Initially shrugged off as sloppy paperwork, the problem kept getting deeper until a frustrated School Superintendent Charles Nagle demanded a review of the files of every Greenbrier football player - and found more than a dozen of them shouldn't have been playing at all.
"Their names were never submitted for eligibility" to the GHSA, Nagle says. "At least two of those players are academically ineligible."
As this plays out, there are sure to be fines and reprimands, at minimum. Chadwick has temporarily stepped down as athletic director, and Greenbrier already has forfeited two of the five games the Wolfpack won this season because of ineligible players.
One of those victories was against Lakeside. So not only has Greenbrier's problem taken the spotlight off of Lakeside's troubles, but the forfeit improves Lakeside's final record to 4-6.
Somehow, we don't expect a pep rally.
The drama of the past couple of weeks has, unfortunately, captured virtually everyone's attention, threatening to obscure the best-in-the-county success of the football season at Evans High. But beyond the disservice to all of the county's students, parents and rule-abiding staff, what is doubly disappointing is the kick in the teeth these two recent incidents give to the Columbia County Board of Education.
Remember: Just this past spring - coincidentally, during the same meeting in which they voted to hire Grooms - the school board adopted the recommendations from a parent committee to boost the high schools' athletic programs. Trustees agreed to add about $85,000 to this year's budget to give pay raises to athletic staff. They also reduced the academic duties of high school athletic directors - in part to give them more time to take care of details like student paperwork.
These scandals are a shameful betrayal of that vote of confidence in athletic programs.
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