Wilde Lake, one of the state's premier football programs and one that recently announced five of its players had signed with Division I college programs, will forfeit its entire 2003 season because it played with an out-of-district athlete, the Howard County school system announced yesterday.
It is the second Howard County high school to forfeit its 2003 varsity football season. Oakland Mills forfeited seven wins and its spot in the state playoffs because it played a student who was found to have had an improper grade change.
The Wilde Lake athlete's parents, during an investigation conducted by the school system, admitted they had falsified documents so their son could play at Wilde Lake, according to a school system news release yesterday.
The player, a junior running back who played in seven games, lived in the Oakland Mills school district and had played two seasons at that school. He will be ineligible to compete in football next season.
Wilde Lake compiled a 7-3 regular-season record, which had improved to 8-2 after Oakland Mills forfeited its season in November because of an ineligible player.
The school system's rules and infractions committee, which met last Thursday, decided on the penalties.
Wilde Lake's Doug DuVall, who has coached five state football championship teams during 32 years of coaching at the Columbia school, said he was not allowed by his principal to comment on the forfeitures.
But last week he told The Sun that the player in question was supposed to be living in the Wilde Lake district with his father, who was separated from his wife.
"I drove him home after practice one day, and the place I dropped him off at was in our district," DuVall said.
The news release said that no school official, Wilde Lake staff member or coach had any prior knowledge of this violation and there was no evidence of wrongdoing by the coaches.
The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association that governs high school sports could impose additional penalties.
Wildecats lineman Shawn Frederick, The Sun's Howard County Offensive Player of the Year, said that the penalty really won't have much impact on him and his teammates.
"All the hype is really secondary because no one at school was found guilty of doing anything wrong, and because it doesn't detract from all that we accomplished as players," said Frederick, who will play football in the fall at Georgetown. "We will still have our highlight tapes and our scholarships and still have the benefits from playing."
Frederick said it would have been a lot tougher to forfeit during the season, especially if the Wildecats were still in the running for a playoff spot.
"What happened to Oakland Mills this year was a lot harder for them because they had a shot to win states," Frederick said. "We didn't have a chance."
He called the punishment administered to the individual player "a huge one."
Angela Randolph, mother of lineman Dane Randolph, who will attend Maryland on a football scholarship in the fall, called the penalty unfair to the kids who dedicated so much time.
"It's sad," she said. "There should be an alternative when parents falsify documents. It's not fair that our school did nothing wrong and a school like Oakland Mills did do something wrong, and yet both schools get the same punishment."
This is the second time a Wilde Lake football team forfeited its season. In 1977, the team used an over-age player who had transferred from out of state, and the Wildecats were disqualified from the state playoffs by forfeiting nine games.
Wilde Lake principal Restia Whitaker reported the current eligibility violation after allegations were brought to the attention of school officials.