WILLIAMSTOWN >> In an email to The Berkshire Eagle on Monday, Mount Greylock principal Mary MacDonald announced that the boys soccer team has forfeited seven games, starting on Sept. 6 and running through Sept. 26.
During that stretch, the Mounties fielded an ineligible player. The Mounties went 5-1-1 during that period.
In the email, MacDonald stated the following: "The inclusion of an ineligible player was the result of an administrative omission discovered during a separate review of records. The responsibility for this lies solely with administration and is not the fault of the individual player, the team or its coaching staff."
Athletic director Lindsey von Holtz, reached at the school on Monday, declined to name the player and what made him ineligible.
"The student was not eligible," von Holtz said.
To make the situation even worse for the program, the loss of the five wins and one draw drops the Mounties to a 1-10-1 record. Even if the team wins the remainder of its games, Greylock would not reach the .500 mark needed to qualify for postseason play.
MacDonald, though, said the school plans to appeal to the MIAA for a qualification waiver.
"When it was brought to light, Athletic Director Lindsey von Holtz immediately communicated the problem to Coach Blair Dils and me," MacDonald said, "as well as the MIAA. Because neither the coach nor the player are at fault for this error, and the responsibility lies solely with administration, we have asked the MIAA that Mount Greylock's boys' soccer team be considered as a tournament-qualifying team. We understand that we would be seeded last in the division. If our request is denied, we will mount a vigorous appeal to the Executive Board, following MIAA guidelines."
Von Holtz said that the school became aware of the player's status very recently. Von Holtz actually discovered the issue, and said it was "something I noticed while filling out paperwork for something unrelated."
The MIAA was notified last week, when the school contacted the state's governing high school sports body to verify that the proper steps were being taken to resolve the situation.
Per the MIAA Handbook, Article 86, "the principal of a school which plays a student who is later found to be ineligible, whether because of the student's own misstatement or lack of care on the part of the school authorities, shall notify in writing the principal(s) of the opposing school(s) and the Executive Director of the MIAA, forfeiting every competition in which the ineligible student competed."
The school notified Dils and the team over the weekend. MacDonald met with the coach, team and parents on Sunday to explain the situation.
Reached by phone with his team on the bus to play Monument Mountain on Monday, Dils said that the team took the news with several different emotions.
"We were just shocked," he said. "Our athletic director is really up on eligibility and the regulations and those kind of things. It definitely took us by surprise that someone had slipped through the cracks, and I think the team is mixed emotions.
"There's some sadness, there's some frustration, but they know they have to put that aside pretty quickly because we still have to, if you don't count the forfeits, we are still 2 points away from qualifying for the tournament, and that's something that we need to do if the MIAA is going to allow us to participate in the tournament with a sub-.500 record."
The school has not heard back yet from the MIAA. Per the MIAA's handbook, there are several steps that must be met in order to have the appeal heard.
The school has to issue a $300 non-refundable purchase order or school-issued check to the MIAA. These funds, per the handbook, are earmarked to support the MIAA Endowment Fund to support various initiatives.
The school has to also provide five copies of documents including: a signed letter by the superintendent, principal and athletic director explaining why the Board of Director's Sub-Committee should grant the request. A statement from school officials explaining why the situation occurred, and a statement from the principal as to remedy the situation in the future.
If the appeal is granted, the Mounties would be seeded last in their division and the forfeitures will remain. Finally, the principal, athletic director and the coach — in this case coach Dils — will be required to attend the MIAA Rules Orientation Workshop within six months of the violation.
A call to the MIAA inquiring about the appeal process, and the timeline the process is on, was not immediately returned.
Von Holtz said that she has already learned several lessons from this issue. The essence of which she boiled down to: "It has a lot to do with double-checking different things that are rare situations that don't come up frequently."
Dils said he thought his team has handled the initial news well, but that the real effect of the situation will crystallize when his team plays Monument.
"I think we'll know right away today if they'll be able to put that big distraction aside and go out and play good soccer. I think so, we have a lot of seniors on the team that want to leave their mark, and they want to represent themselves well. They know that this doesn't reflect well on our school — they had nothing to do with that — but it doesn't reflect well on their school. So they're going to go out and hopefully play the kind of soccer that does reflect well on our school."
Games played from Sept. 6 to Sept. 26
Sept. 6 — 5-1 win over Wahconah
Sept. 10 — 1-1 tie with West Springfield
Sept. 13 — 3-2 loss to Pittsfield
Sept. 15 — 4-0 win over Monument Mountain
Sept. 20 — 4-1 win over Lenox
Sept. 24 — 1-0 win over Hampshire
Sept. 26 — 8-0 win over Taconic.
Contact Geoff Smith at 413-496-6250