By Jeremy Balan
The Archbishop Riordan High School boys basketball team’s Central Coast Section playoff hopes may be in question due to the use of an ineligible player in six non-league games this season.
The Crusaders may have to forfeit those six games, five being wins, because a transfer student from Sacred Heart Cathedral played in the games without the proper paperwork being submitted to the CCS.
As of Thursday morning, the CCS has yet to be informed by Riordan of the ineligible player, so no forfeits have been imposed, but they are expected.
“He was eligible by school standards, but the appropriate paperwork was not filed,” said first-year Riordan athletic director Pete Russell, who said he discovered the oversight. “It fell through the cracks. Somehow we dropped the ball. We had the whole summer to figure this out, but as a new athletic director, this falls on my shoulders. That’s my job and there are no excuses. Luckily I caught it before league, when the games really count.”
Unfortunately for the Crusaders, it is their seven non-league wins that would give them a CCS Division IV playoff bid if their record remains intact. Computer rankings have the Crusaders pegged as the third-ranked team in the section’s division.
If the five wins in question end up as forfeits, the Crusaders would have to go 7-7 in West Catholic Athletic League play or win the league tournament at the end of the season to get into the CCS playoffs.
Riordan went 2-12 in WCAL play last season and hasn’t had a record at .500 or better since the 2007-2008 season. The Crusaders last missed the CCS playoffs in 2009 and have only missed the section postseason five times since 1979.
“It’s very tough to think about [missing the playoffs], especially for our seniors, who have been putting in work for their entire time here,” said Riordan head coach Rich Buckner. “Now I have to explain to them that they may not be able to play for a section crown.”
Buckner said that he never questioned the player’s eligibility because he was participating in football. The player was listed on the varsity football roster all season, but did not play in a game.
“I’ve been trying to rack my mind, and I thought a lot about this, but I don’t know what I could have done differently,” Buckner said. “I know my duties as coach and as a mentor, and I have done everything I should have.”
According to CCS assistant commissioner Steve Filios and CCS documentation, the transfer paperwork in question needs to be signed by the athletic directors from both schools, the student, his parent or guardian, the prior school’s principal, any current coaches the student would play for at the new school and any coaches the student played for at the old school.
As of Thursday, Sacred Heart athletic director Phil Freed was unsure if transfer paperwork had been submitted to the Sacred Heart athletic department.
“This was brought to my attention a couple of days ago,” Freed said. “All of the transfer paperwork has to originate from the school the transfer is to. I don’t know if that paperwork ever came across our desk.”