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Updated: Oct 17, 2022

By Mike Wendlandt

A District Court ruled that a temporary restraining order filed by Amherst High School against the WIAA that would've allowed the Falcons to play in the upcoming playoffs would not be approved and thus ending the Falcons season after the team was informed that they would have to forfeit the first eight games of the season for use of an ineligible player. For more on the original story, you can by clicking here.

Judge Michael Zell made his ruling after around an hour of arguments from lawyers representing Amherst and the WIAA at the Portage County Courthouse with over a dozen Amherst football players and parents in attendance. Amherst argued that the WIAA had applied the rule determining the player's eligibility unfairly and that the player's time at Manawa in 2018 was unable to be verified until the anonymous tip went to the WIAA on October 8. The Falcons also claimed that the player didn't give a competitive advantage to the team in three of their wins that ended with lopsided scores. They also alleged that the WIAA was acting as a state body and their ruling would cause irreparable harm to the students, the town, and the program.

In their arguments, the WIAA refuted the claim of being a state actor, stating that they are a voluntary organization and that each member school agrees to be a part of it and isn't compelled to remain a member of the WIAA. They also argued that Amherst didn't do enough of the legwork required to make sure the player in question would be eligible and said that every school should always side on the side of ineligibility before eligibility. Their claim was that Amherst should've voluntarily made the player ineligible until they could complete the forms that were given to them by his previous school, which is not WIAA-affiliated.

In the end, Judge Zell agreed with the WIAA, saying numerous times that while harsh and empathizing with the Amherst plight, the WIAA is not a governing body and a state actor and that the court is not in the place to set the precedent that they should be legislating the rules set by a voluntary organization, thus ruling against the motion for a temporary injunction and restraining order.

After the ruling the Falcons players and principal Mike Klieforth and District Administrator Mike Richie spoke with the media and acknowledged that while they are saddened by the turn of events, they accept them and said they were proud of the way they handled the situation and how the team banded together over the past week and kept their heads high and won their final game.

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