The St. Frances baseball team, which had been among the leaders in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference, has been forced to forfeit all of its games because of incomplete paperwork on two transfer students.
“It’s an unfortunate situation,” said Rick Diggs, executive director of the MIAA. “It was absolutely not intentional. It’s just that over the past two years our paperwork involving transfers has become more complicated.”
Diggs said the paperwork errors were discovered by the league office during routine cross-checks of team rosters that are done for the entire league, and the decision to impose forfeits was made Thursday.
“We go over and check rosters against transfer forms,” Diggs said. “We feel the word is out for the most part [concerning the paperwork that has to be done]. But some things slip under the crack. Unfortunately, for one or two students, there wasn’t complete paperwork.
“It’s unfortunate. St. Frances does a great job taking in transfers from all over the city. A link can break down anywhere along the line.”
At 8-4, the Panthers were in contention for one of six playoff spots in the B Conference, but the team is now 0-12.
When the news was broken to the St. Frances players Friday, coach Brian Boles said the reaction ranged from tears to anger.
“They were a playoff bound team, but this is the situation,” Boles said. “I told them to just continue to move forward. My message to them is we are still one team. What matters is what happens between the lines on the baseball field. They have to learn to smile in the face of adversity. This is a lesson they’ll remember the rest of their lives.”
Boles said the team voted to continue to play with the two athletes whose paperwork is incomplete, meaning every game will continue to count as a forfeit.
“We’re going to concede the forfeits, so the kids can still play," Boles said. “The other players didn’t want to rob them of the opportunity to play and didn't want to play without them.
What bothers Boles most, he said, is that a number of his players have opportunities to earn scholarships, and he isn't sure how this will impact their future.
"I don't know if it will hinder them, by not being seen in the playoffs," he said. "I don't know what kind of ripple effect it will have."
Boles said he has sent in an application for the Maryland State Private School tournament and he’s hoping his team will be allowed to play in the event next month.
"It's a small hope for us," Boles said. "It's not like winning you're conference championship, but it's something."