The Georgia High School Association has disqualified or ejected 536 athletes or coaches during competitions through Jan. 18 of the current academic year and fined schools $20,500 for that misconduct, the association revealed Friday.
The GHSA has collected another $90,000 in fines from schools whose coaches failed to complete mandatory coaching or rules clinics. In addition, GHSA schools have paid $38,750 in fines for more serious misconduct such as illegal practices and recruiting.
All told, the GHSA has levied $149,250 in fines, and the academic year is only halfway done. Statistics like these always have been public information, but this marks the first time that the GHSA has compiled and released them so extensively on its own.
“Sportsmanship has been a common theme for us, and we began to talk last year about seriously addressing the problem of excessive fines and unsporting events,’’ GHSA executive director Robin Hines stated in the association’s newsletter released Friday. “It is important that all stakeholders are aware of the problem so the problem can be addressed.’’
The most ejections and disqualifications have occurred in football, with 243, but basketball is gaining. Through Jan. 17, there had been 233 ejections in that sport – 142 from boys teams, 91 for girls teams. Other sports with ejections or disqualifications were slow-pitch softball (29), wrestling (27), volleyball (three) and swimming and diving (one). None were reported for cross country or competitive cheerleading. Many sports, including baseball, soccer and track and field, don’t begin until February.
More than 300 of the 536 ejections entailed fighting or leaving the bench area during fights. Other offenses that drew ejections included profanity, disrespect of officials, multiple technical fouls or unsportsmanlike-conduct penalties, flagrant fouls and throwing punches or kicks. There was one instance of a wrestler being disqualified for biting an opponent.
Many of the ejections have occurred during single contests. On Jan. 18, a girls basketball game between Thomasville and Thomas County Central resulted in 23 disqualifications for fighting or leaving the bench during a fight.
On Nov. 13, Carver-Atlanta and Therrell had 25 players disqualified for the same offenses in a boys game. On Dec. 7, Jonesboro and Riverdale lost 18 players during a girls game. Salem lost 11 players in a football game Sept. 27 for fighting.
The failure to complete rules clinics, though not a sportsmanship issue, is another big source of fines. Most rules tests can be completed online in less than two hours. Yet the GHSA has levied 900 fines of $100 apiece for coaches who did not comply.
The biggest fines are levied at schools for major infractions.
Islands, a Savannah-area school forced to forfeit four victories last fall for violating the GHSA’s undue influence and recruiting bylaws, was assessed five fines totaling $5,250 for misrepresenting facts during a GHSA investigation, allowing an illegal transfer student to participate and failure to exert institutional control.
East Hall and Northeast-Macon were fined between $1,250 and $1,500 for unsporting behavior involving their football teams in separate incidents last fall. On Nov. 25, Greenforest Christian was fined $1,000 for allowing an ineligible student to try out, practice or compete for boys basketball. The DeKalb County private school forfeited four basketball games this season.
The GHSA plans to release a year-end report in June. Hines hopes compiling and publishing the information will serve as a deterrent. The GHSA’s report doesn’t identify the students or coaches who were cited for violates.
“It is our hope that this will inform our schools’ administration, coaches and students of their performance in these areas and serve as a reminder to insure all staff to be proactive and eliminate violations and fines altogether,’’ Hines said.
GHSA report on:
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