By Jeremy Balan
When Archbishop Riordan High School’s boys basketball team was discovered to have used an ineligible player in the non-league season, many feared the misstep would lead to forfeits and those fears became a reality on Friday.
The Central Coast Section handed down a ruling that forced Riordan to forfeit blowout wins over Aragon (64-41 final score), University (66-43), Balboa (67-39), Tamalpais (62-36) and Terra Nova (73-28).
“It’s an unfortunate situation, but the rules are black and white,” said CCS assistant commissioner Steve Filios. “In the CCS bylaws, it says that if there is any contest where there is an ineligible player, it will be forfeited.”
Riordan athletic director Pete Russell and head coach Rich Buckner were hoping to make an appeal and felt that the paperwork detailing the forfeits allowed for an appeal process within 30 days, but Filios said there was no avenue for Riordan to appeal.
“These rules are there to prevent fraud and underplay, but there was no scheming from Riordan,” Buckner said. “I’m just speaking from my auditor’s standpoint, my day job. There was no intent, no one lied and there was no knowledge.”
Russell, who admitted an oversight on transfer paperwork two weeks ago, also felt the sanctions were not appropriate.
“This seems a little harsh for high school kids,” Russell said. “We’re not Ohio State or Florida State. Maybe the CCS has to justify their salaries with rulings like this. I don’t know.”
With the forfeits, Riordan’s record drops from 9-7 to 4-12 and puts the Crusaders in danger of missing the CCS Division IV playoffs.
Unless the ruling is overturned, Riordan would have to win seven games in West Catholic Athletic League play to qualify for the CCS postseason. The Crusaders are currently 2-4 in the WCAL with eight games to play, including a matchup against St. Francis tonight.
“The mindset here is that we’re not any good and that we need these games in the [non-league season],” Russell said. “The mindset we want at Riordan is to win WCAL titles. [Winning a CCS title] is like going to a bowl game with 6-6 teams.”