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Recreational Services eliminates team

BY IAN MARTIN | NOVEMBER 06, 2009 7:20 AM

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DCD had one of the two spots in the men’s flag-football Open League. It had the chance to play in the Bubble. It had a legitimate shot at winning the All-University championship.

All the team had to do was beat the Residence Hall champion and win one more game before capturing the title.

But before playing the semifinal game, officials told DCD players their team was ineligible because of one member of their team.

“It was one of the most unfair things I’ve seen go on here,” said DCD captain Tucker Sulzberger.

There is no dispute about the status of the student in question. He is not allowed at present to take classes at the UI because of a suspension due to an undisclosed violation, but he still possesses all the privileges of a university student.

Essentially, because of an incident that occurred during the previous academic year, he is forced to delay his education for a semester, said junior Nick Williams. But Recreational Services defines a student as one who is enrolled in classes. And any team who uses an ineligible student will vacate its wins for the year.

After DCD’s Open League championship opponent raised an issue, Recreational Services officials investigated the player’s eligibility and determined the three-letter squad was in the wrong.

However, Sulzberger followed all procedure before this year’s season. He said he was not aware of the student’s status at the time, but others on the team were.

“[At the beginning of the year], we had to make a roster, and give university ID numbers for each player,” said Williams. “And we assumed that if we turned that in, that if there was any kind of a problem, [Recreational Services] would flag it.

“Nobody ever said anything.”

After playing eight games without incident, the issue arose before one of the two Open League final games. Intramural sports supervisor Dan Payne said a member of the team about to play DCD — Favre’s Favorites, which eventually took the All-Univeristy championship — questioned the eligibility of the player.

“The refs actually said, ‘There’s a possibility the team might be ineligible if [the suspended student] plays,’ ” Sulzberger said. “So we said, ‘If there’s a possibility we’re going to get kicked out of the tournament, we’ll sit him out for this game.’ ”

He said it was his understanding that the ineligibility of the player would simply affect the player and not the team.

DCD won the game, 20-0, and waited to hear word the following day.

After a Recreational Services meeting, Payne told Sulzberger his team could no longer play. Yet DCD wondered why this ineligibility was not found during the regular season.

Recreational Services’ current policy, though, is to look at things only when there is a possible issue.

“If we find out about [ineligibility], or a protest is raised, then we obviously do an investigation,” said Associate Director of Intramurals Mike Widen. “But we don’t check every single player of every single team.”

There are just too many people who play intramural sports to check every name with the registrar, he said. Meanwhile, Recreational Services is seeking to implement a new online sign-up system by next fall that will automatically check a student’s eligibility.

Generally, it is on the player to check his eligibility before the season — especially if the team’s captain is unaware. Although according to Recreational Services’ policies, it is the captain’s responsibility to check the eligibility of all players before signing them up.

Still, Williams said he feels as though he did as much as he could.

“As soon as we found out we had an ineligible player, we didn’t play him. He didn’t play in the game,” he said. “And if we had found out sooner, then we would’ve taken him off [the roster].”


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