ALBANY — Massive disappointment is brewing in the Monroe community.
A recent routine review of athletes at Monroe High School led to a report to the Georgia High School Association that a student-athlete was academically ineligible to play, so the Tornadoes basketball team may be forced to forfeit 15 of their 16 wins and their region championship.
“No decision has been made,” said Robin Hines, director of the Georgia High School Association. “We are hoping to get it all together and make a decision very soon,” Hines said Thursday afternoon.
Hines said he hoped to be in the office Friday afternoon and weigh all of the information and make a decision at that time. “The principal at Monroe (Vinson Davis) is a stand-up guy,” Hines said. “He did things the way they are supposed to be done.”
Monroe had one more game to play in the regular season, tonight against Crisp County in Cordele. The Tornadoes were 8-0 in the region and would be set to play in the upcoming state playoffs since there is not a region tournament for Region 1-AAA.
“We self-reported the information earlier this week,” said Tornadoes head coach Keith Hayes. “We are waiting on the final decision from GHSA. Right now, we don’t have anything definite. We do have some very disappointed players right now. They have worked so hard to be ready for the playoffs. They are heartbroken.”
If the final decision is made that Monroe must forfeit the games, Worth County and Crisp County would be the main benefactors. Worth County and Crisp County have played twice this season and split the two games. They will play again Tuesday night in Cordele and that game could decide the region championship.
“I’m disappointed that this happened and saddened that, because of the forfeitures, the hard work of our student-athletes on the court won’t be reflected in the team’s official record. I am, however, proud of the effort they put forth this season. I’m especially saddened for the seniors who won’t have an opportunity to participate in the final postseason of their high school careers,” Dougherty County School Superintendent Ken Dyer said.
“As disappointed as I am, however, I commend the school’s leadership for their honesty in self-reporting this rules infraction. Dwight Eisenhower said that the supreme quality of leadership is integrity and Principal (Vinson) Davis definitely exhibited that during this unfortunate situation,” he said.
In response to the GHSA’s findings, Davis stated: “we will accept the GHSA’s sanctions and we are committed to reviewing and improving our processes to ensure that we can better determine the eligibility of our student-athletes in a more timely manner moving forward.“
Davis went on to say that “our student-athletes worked very hard this season and the support from our fan base was tremendous. We’ll continue to emphasize excellence both in the classroom and on the court.”
Normally, the top four teams in the region go on to the state playoffs anyway, but because there are only four schools in Region 1-AAA that may not be the case. “If a team that finished fifth in another region has a better record, they would get that spot since our region has only four teams,” said Dyer.
Dyer added that while he was not 100 percent sure, but he did not think Monroe would be in the playoffs if they have only one or two region wins because of the forfeits.