Ruling reversed, Broadneck gets back football titles

Player who moved in with teammate is deemed eligible for No. 1 Bruins

High Schools

May 18, 2004|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

Broadneck's football team got its 2003 season back yesterday after a surprisingly quick ruling by the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association.

Reversing a decision made last month by the Anne Arundel County Board of Arbitration that had stripped the top-ranked Bruins of their 13 wins and county and region titles, the appeals committee of the MPSSAA ruled at the Best Western in Laurel that Broadneck did not use an ineligible player.

"We were going home because we were told we would get the decision in 24 hours, but a quick decision was made and they ruled unanimously in our favor, " said Ken Kazmarek, the Broadneck athletic director.

"[Winning the appeal is] not unheard of, but most of the times it doesn't go down that way," said Ned Sparks, the MPSSAA executive director.

The Anne Arundel County Board of Arbitration, a committee of three principals, three athletic directors and a representative of the county coaches association, ruled April 20 that Broadneck had used an ineligible player.

That committee found junior Sam Boquist being an "out-of-area" player because he was living in the Broadneck district without a parent or legal guardian.

Boquist had lived and attended school in the Broadneck district since fifth grade. At the start of the 2003-04 school year, his mother left the Broadneck area and Boquist moved in with parents of a teammate who lived near Boquist's stepfather.

Broadneck football coach Jeff Herrick was checking a list of underclassmen in April when he noticed two players with the same phone number. He notified his principal and athletic director and together they turned it into the county.

"It's a shame it all [family situation] had to come out," said Herrick, whose team finished the season 13-1 after losing the state Class 4A title game. "Family problems like this happen all over the country. I was optimistic the first time [county hearing] because I felt we had good information, but was concerned about how Sam and our team was going to do through all of this.

"When a coach presents this kind of information, there should be considerations and not nail the whole team. I was surprised at that."

The MPSSAA appeals committee consists of one representative from each of the nine geographic districts in the state and a representative from the Association of Secondary School Principals.

Five members are required for a quorum and eight were present yesterday.

"Broadneck made a very strong case and the committee was compelled by the arguments made," said Sparks.

"There were a lot of things [in the testimony] that unfortunately the people in Anne Arundel County didn't have the privilege of knowing when they made their decision. And the people at Broadneck said [the county] made the right decision based on the information that they had.

"But if you look at the whole picture, he never really was ineligible."

Kazmarek added: "It's a tribute to everybody involved, particularly Mrs. [Cindy] Hudson [principal] who worked laboriously in putting the appeal together, as well as Coach Herrick and the parents involved."

Hudson said "it was a very personal presentation, a lot of confidential information shared that made the difference" yesterday. She also took the blame for not being as well-prepared at the county hearing.

The Broadneck principal said that Boquist will fill out an out-of-area transfer. With two brothers at Broadneck and a stepfather who resides in the area, Boquist has all the legal documentation he needs to finish at Broadneck, Hudson said.

The mother and stepfather share custody of the three boys.

"I think the character and courage he showed was just tremendous as was that of the rest of the team," Hudson said. "We needed to win this for them.

"When we met with the team in the auditorium when this started, Ken Kazmarek made a real interesting analogy. He told them, `You've got a 15th game to play and we're going to win this one, too.'"

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