"No violation, no penalties," said Chesapeake girls soccer coach LinSullivan.
Two of his players, senior Allison Nethan and junior Denise Perrone, were among four girls thought to have violated a Maryland Public Secondary Schools Association rule by playing in a club soccer tournament Monday.
Friday morning, however, the two girls, along with Meade seniors Amanda Simmons and Kelly Dryden, were cleared of any violations of the rule, which states that outside participation in the same sport cannot conflict with high school practice or games.
"None of these girls is going to face any loss of playing eligibility from the county," said Paul Rusko, acting physical education coordinator. The decision still must be reviewed by the MPSSAA, but Rusko said it is unlikelyto be overturned.
"I spoke to (MPSSAA Executive Secretary Ned Sparks) about 2:30 today (Friday,)" Rusko said. "In the past, he's always gone with whatever our findings are. And we tell them everything."
Simmons, Nethan and Dryden played with the Columbia-based Crusaders while Perrone played with 11 other countians for the Tom Ehart-coached Severna Park Alliance. The Alliance squad included seven players from Severna Park, two from Old Mill and one each from Broadneck and North County.
"We had no problem with the girls from Old Mill and Broadneck because they made practice," said Rusko.
Sullivan said although his players arrived late to school and in time for practice, he kept them from practicing, citing a rule at Chesapeake High.
"Our school rules say that if you're not here in school all day, then you don't practice unless it's extraordinary circumstances where this is something that has the approval of the principal," he said.
Forthe same reason, Simmons was available but did not practice. Nancy Dryden said her daughter did not show up to practice, "because I thought missing most of school meant she couldn't."
On Thursday, the four girls, their parents, coaches and principals went before a committee comprised of Rusko, three principals, three athletic directors anda representative of the coaches association.
A guilty verdict could have meant suspension for either 60 days or for this season and next season.
Each coach could have been censured and declared ineligible to coach the sport or any other sport for this and the rest of the school year. Rusko confirmed that Sullivan is in the clear.
Asked if Meade coach John O'Neill, who did not return phone calls, had been cleared, Rusko said, "We will be talking to coaches from several different schools on Monday."
Among those coaches present will be Severna Park coach Joyce Stefancik and North County coach Marianne Shultz, neither of whom conducted practice Monday -- the day of the WAGS tournament championship finals.
Their players were on the Alliance squad, which won the under-19 B-division title Monday.
Stefancik said early last week that she announced the previous Thursday she would not conduct practice Friday, Oct. 11, or Monday, Oct. 14. She cited injuries to key players and big games against Chesapeake and Old Mill as the reason.
The actions of Stefancik and Shultz could be aviolation of a memo, dated Sept. 11, that was delivered to principals, athletic directors and coaches.
The memo stated "It is expectedthat high school teams conduct practice for all members or engage incompetition every day school is in session during the sports season."
"All I can say is that we're going to discuss that -- the fact that there wasn't practice," said Rusko, who has scheduled the meetingfor about 2 p.m.
"Our committee is going to look into every one of these situations.
"We know coaches won't hold practice every day, but it's pretty obvious why the rule has been written -- so there are no loop holes," Rusko added. "But there are no (sanctions) writtenin stone anywhere (about violating the rule), and that's going to make it very difficult."
Although Linda Simmons, Amanda's mother, said she is "breathing a heavy sigh of relief," she is still wary of what the state's decision will be.
"The county still has to advise the state of their decision, and they could decide differently," Simmons said.
"I think the way the rule is written, the girls are beingpenalized for their success. I just hope that this is the end of it."
Ehart, whose Alliance is 10-0-2 overall, 5-0-2 and in first place in the B Division, said he expects his players to be hesitant aboutcompeting in a scheduled game next weekend.
"We came back from the tournament hoping to celebrate, but how do you celebrate when something like this happens?" Ehart said.
"The last thing I wanted to do was hurt the girls, and it seems like everyone thinks that I didn'tcare about them. But that's the whole reason I put the team together-- to help them get exposure."
As far as at least one parent, Barbara Myers, is concerned, the WAGS tournament is the best thing that every happened to her daughter, Kim Myers, who received a partial scholarship to Rutgers University.
"My daughter was one of only two seniors from this county (Severna Park's Betsy Houser was the other) to compete with the Crusaders in the WAGS tournament last year, and that's why they both got scholarships," said Myers.
"This issue cameup last year and I wrote her an excused absence. I would do it againif I had to. I thought it was important enough for her to miss school that day -- and it must have been the right decision because look where she is now."