Sunday, October 28, 2001

Flat Rock out of playoffs
DeCotis, parents still examining situation


It's official Flat Rock Middle School's football team is not in the playoffs.

A special meeting of the Metro Middle School Athletic League was held Tuesday night at Luella Middle School in Henry County, and Flat Rock's request to overturn a previous ruling on the tiebreaker used to determine the playoff seedings was rejected, leaving Rising Starr and Fayette Middle as the two representatives from the county in the playoffs.

In the wake of the controversy that this issue has caused, Superintendent John DeCotis said Thursday morning that the entire middle school athletic situation is being looked at. "At this time, we're evaluating our status with the league," he said.

The school system has no jurisdiction over the league, and DeCotis said that all schools in the league agreed to abide by its rules and leadership.

Parents of Flat Rock players asked DeCotis to consider not letting any Fayette schools participate in the playoffs if a satisfactory outcome was not reached, but he said that was not appropriate in this case.

"It would have affected four other schools, including Henry County schools, and four other set of parents and students," said DeCotis, who added that he consulted with the school system's legal counsel during his own decision-making process.

DeCotis held a meeting Tuesday morning with principals of the three schools as well as MMSAL Commissioner Jason Byars, an administrator at Whitewater Middle. DeCotis said he asked Byars if a meeting could be held, and Byars agreed to attempt to organize one.

DeCotis said he also asked Byars to allow Ray Swann, the spokesperson for the Flat Rock parents, to make the same presentation he made to the superintendent at a conference Monday afternoon, after Flat Rock's appeal was voted down last Friday.

Swann told The Citizen that he went to the meeting Tuesday night, as did several other parents, and they were met by a law enforcement officer who told them no parents would be allowed in the meeting except for Swann.

Once the meeting began, according to Swann, Byars said a vote would be required to even allow him to remain in attendance. This was done while he waited outside. Swann said that a Flat Rock representative came out a few minutes later and informed him that the board had voted not to let him back in.

Several calls to Whitewater for a comment from Byars were not returned.

The controversy began when all three Fayette schools finished their region schedule with 3-1 records. Rising Starr and Flat Rock were 5-1 overall, while Fayette Middle came in at 3-3.

The other two games on the teams' schedules were not counted in the region standings to determine playoff structure, and they were also not considered as "common league opponents" under the second tiebreaker method outlined in the league bylaws.

Fayette Middle made the playoffs ahead of Flat Rock by virtue of a coin toss. Flat Rock parents contend that it never should have come to that.

Swann said that while his group has accepted the team's absence from the playoffs this season, the issue is not dead and the parents are considering what, if any, action should be taken.

Meanwhile, Fayette Middle lost in the opening round of the playoffs Wednesday, 18-15 to Henry County, while Rising Starr was scheduled to face Eagle's Landing Thursday.

For more background on this story, see the story in Wednesday's edition of The Citizen or on our Web site at


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