The Cobb County school district won’t comment on the appeal but families tell CBS46 that they want the appeal to focus on getting their sons back on the field.
The Marietta High School varsity football team won eight games last season. They now have to forfeit all of them after the Georgia High School Association said two players were ineligible to play during the 2017 season because they didn’t live in the school district.
This week, the school learned the track team will also have to forfeit all of last season’s wins because one of the football players also ran track.
Parents for the boys would not go on camera in an effort to protect their sons, but they spoke with CBS46's Hayley Mason on the phone.
One of the boy's father hired attorney Kimani King.
"None of the information that was provided by the student athlete was inaccurate, but he ultimately is the one being punished," King told CBS46 on the phone.
Both athletes' parents told CBS46 they wanted to move their boys to Marietta High School for various reasons, including to play sports. The parents say that athletic director and eligibility director, independently told them that their families would have two options: move into the school zone or a parent must work in the district. The boys' mothers became teachers at elementary schools in the district and their sons began playing football at Marietta High.
In June, months after the season ended, the two families were told that their sons had been ineligible to play. The school informed that their parent would have to teach at the receiving school, Marietta High School in order for them to play at the school, not at any school in the district.
“We didn’t know we were breaking the rules," one of the fathers said on the phone. He didn't want his name published. “I’m disappointed. We can’t believe he was ruled ineligible when we were following the directions of the school,” he added.
The other father said he wanted to clear the air and tell everyone they are not cheaters. They thought they were doing the right thing.
"They [MHS] represented to the Georgia High School Association that he was eligible and met all requirements and therefore he played. That turned out to be an untrue statement," King said. "This is the athletic department telling the family the wrong thing and the athletic department telling the GHSA the wrong thing."
"This is like punishment after the fact," said Suzanne Strub, who lives nearby. "I think they should reinstate the wins and I think they should go forward from this day," she added. "As a student athlete who had hopes of playing division one football, he’s devastated. We haven’t lost hope because we would like the GHSA to reconsider their ruling. But, he’s devastated thinking he might not be able to play football for his final year in high school."
King says his clients blame this on some of the previous athletic administration, but commend the current officials at Marietta High for admitting to the “clerical error” that led to the punishment.
“I am certain that when GHSA hears that we were following direction of the school that they will think about their ruling,” one father said.
The parents are optimistic the school will appeal to have their sons regain eligibility.
GHSA Director Dr. Robin Hines would not comment on the investigation or the possible appeal, citing an ongoing investigation.
Marietta City Schools' officials would not confirm or deny that they plan to appeal. They released the following statement:Marietta City Schools was recently notified that Marietta High School is required to forfeit all victories in boys track during the 2018 season. Marietta High School is also required to pay a $1,000 fine for allowing a migrant student to participate in football and track. This GHSA ruling comes as a result of two student-athletes who participated in football and track who were determined to be migratory (as referenced in the July 11, 2018 letter from the GHSA).Copyright 2018 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.