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AMHERST, WI—Following a formal appeal to the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) Board of Control by Tomorrow River School District (TRSD) officials on Thursday, the WIAA has ruled in a 9-0 vote to uphold its decision that the Amherst High School football program must forfeit all six of its 2022 season victories leaving the team 0-8 and ineligible for the playoffs. The ruling handed down by WIAA is that an Amherst Falcons football player had previously exhausted his athletic eligibility because he participated in football at a different school district in 2018. TRSD officials argued that this eligibility issue was not known to the school and could not have been discovered by the school nor its Athletic Director Shawn Groshek via WIAA procedures in place at the time.

“We are extremely disappointed by this unreasonable ruling from the WIAA,” said District Administrator Mike Richie. “The facts in this case make it clear that none of the WIAA processes in place at the time would have allowed us to discover this situation. As a result, the WIAA is unfairly harming our district, our student-athletes and our entire community. We did everything in our power to attempt to get this unfair decision reversed.”

Despite this, and on advice from legal counsel, the district has decided against seeking a temporary restraining order in the case.

AD Groshek was advised on Monday, October 10 by the WIAA that the association had received an allegation from an outside, unidentified person of an ineligible player participating on the Amherst varsity football team. Groshek and TRSD administrators immediately began investigating this allegation and responded with an appeal document to WIAA on October 11. On Wednesday, October 12 the WIAA informed TRSD of its decision and offered the district the opportunity to appeal to the Board of Control on Thursday. Ultimately, these efforts by the district failed to change the ruling.

The information currently available to TRSD and shared by TRSD to WIAA in its appeal documents verifies that the student-athlete in question home-schooled in the fall of 2018 and played (freshman/jayvee) football for Manawa. He was not enrolled in any classes in the Manawa School District. WIAA regulations state that a student-athlete may not compete in WIAA sports for more than four consecutive years. As such, this would have meant that the 2021-2022 school year would have been the final year of eligibility for this student.

Neither Groshek, nor school administration were aware of the home-schooled student’s Manawa football participation until informed by the WIAA on October 10. For the 2019-2020 school year, the student in question enrolled at Stevens Point Christian Academy (SPCA) as a freshman, according to his Cumulative File records at TRSD. Further, his Cumulative File paperwork from SPCA states the following: “came to SPCA in the fall of 2019 from home schooling. No other records available.” In 2020 he open-enrolled at the TRSD as a sophomore.

District officials state that the information that they have on file from SPCA shows that the student-athlete did not play any sports as a freshman there. It appears that the school, which is not WIAA affiliated, only offers basketball as a boys’ sport. He also did not compete in football during his sophomore school year (2020-21) in Amherst. Instead he played soccer for Amherst in fall of 2020. In 2021-22 he joined the Amherst football team for his first season of football competition at the school as a junior.

Amherst football plays Stratford in Marshfield on Friday, October 14 in what will be the Falcons’ final game of the season. Prior to the ruling, both teams were undefeated in conference play.

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