BOULDER — Coming down the home stretch of what has been a successful season, the Fairview girls basketball program received some bad news this past week.
After finding out they had been playing an ineligible player in January, the Knights have forfeited eight games. Those eight games include six wins and two losses. The wins will be removed from the Knights' record while the scores from the losses will stand.
The forfeiture changes the Knights' record from 16-4 to 10-10, and drops the team from 13th to 28th in the Class 5A RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) standings. The ineligibility, which school officials insist was an oversight and was not intentional, resulted from an individual player not being enrolled in enough Carnegie units to participate in athletics and was self-reported by the school.
"Last Monday I had a student athlete come to me and let me know that she had only been taking four classes," Knights head coach Rod Beauchamp said. "So as soon as I found that out, I reported it to our athletic director and he reported it to CHSAA."
Student-athletes are required to take a minimum of five classes each semester.
For the Knights, who are currently ranked 10th in 5A by the CHSAANow.com poll, the alteration of their record will have a definite impact on their postseason future. But despite the loss of six Front Range League wins, which drops their conference record to 1-8 and plummets them to last place in the conference standings, the Knights still have a good chance to qualify for the postseason.
"We are allowed to be in the playoffs still, but it will go by the RPI," Beauchamp said. "With three games left, I can't imagine we will drop out of the top 48. But hopefully we can take care of business and still stay somewhere in the range where we can host a first-round playoff game."
The Knights forfeited wins against Poudre (Jan. 6), Mountain Range (Jan. 10), Monarch (Jan. 17), Broomfield (Jan. 20), Fort Collins (Jan. 24) and Boulder (Jan. 27). Since the ineligible player played in eight games, she will have to sit out a minimum of eight games. Because of the length of the suspension, she likely will not return this season.
Fairview athletic director Terrin Kelly said he intends to appeal the punishment on the basis of the error's unintentional nature and the indirect impact the penalty will have on multiple student athletes. He will present the appeal to the Front Range athletic directors at their regularly-scheduled meeting next Wednesday.
"We're going to appeal to the Front Range League," Kelly said. "I'll present it to the Front Range League athletic directors and just see what they say. We're going to follow all the proper channels under the CHSAA bylaws."
Whatever happens with the program's appeal, the school's handling of the mistake has already been met with public praise from several CHSAA officials.
"This is a case of a school discovering a problem, and stepping up to address that problem, which includes forfeiting eight games," CHSAA assistant commissioner Bert Borgmann said in a story on CHSAANow.com. "From the beginning, they knew it was the right thing to do, and it reflects well on the school and community for the steps they've taken.
"The key is that they have addressed the problem and ensured that it's not likely to happen again."
Also regardless of any potential appellate action, Beauchamp said that his program has met the penalty head on and will now focus its energy on the Knights' final regular-season games.
"It's a chance to show some resilience and to see how we can respond the rest of the way," Beauchamp said.