Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Huntington High Update

The OJ Mayo suspension saga is continuing...

Yesterday, O.J. Mayo met with his attorney, Mike Woelfel, who is also an HHS assistant b-ball coach, to discuss options and filed for an injunction Tuesday morning.
“We are asking the circuit judge to maintain the status quo, that is that O.J.’s available to play,” Woelfel said. “We are also asking the judge to examine the rules and regulations of the SSAC to determine that their denial of an administrative hearing prior to punishment being imposed is unfair.”
Also, the 5 reserves who were suspended after the game, although not penalized during the game, for leaving the bench area during the game, (Clear as mud right?), have filed a legal challenge seeking an injunction against the suspensions until their ability to appeal is determined.

Judge Dan O'Hanlon will hear Mayo's complaint at 11:00 a.m. A hearing for the reserve players has been scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Mayo will also meet with WVSSAC Executive Director, Mike Hayden, at 10:30 a.m.

In media interviews yesterday, WVSSAC officials continue to support referee Mike Lazo and affirm the fact that referee's rulings are not subject to appeal.

I can understand that this response makes things simpler for the WVSSAC, since they don't have to concern themselves with nuance. However, real life is rarely a black and white situation. There are shades of gray, but it's all or nothing for the WVSSAC.

My question for the WVSSAC is what about a hypothetical situation where a referee did actively work to affect the outcome of a game? I'm not saying that Lazo did so, but it seems that WVSSAC rules or procedures should at least consider the possibility that this could occur.

Right now, because there is no appeal process, then a referee could conceivably take action that changes the outcome of a game (and future games), and there is nothing that the WVSSAC would do about it. That's not right, and I think that should be at least part of the legal challenge to the WVSSAC's approach to prohibit any consideration of an appeal.

The WVSSAC claims that they can't open pandora's box of questioning judgment calls by officials, and I understand that you can't overturn or reverse calls during a game. However, the question now is whether the extra punishment of a 2 game suspension should be enforced by the WVSSAC without opportunity for appeal. To me, that is different than going back to an instant replay and ruling whether someone scored a game winning touchdown.

Meanwhile, the story continues to garner national attention including a story in today's New York Times.

While I am probably somewhat biased as a HHS fan, it's interesting to note the NYT's description of the events in question, which also question the 2nd technical foul and Lazo's "exaggerated" fall.
"Mayo picked up his first technical foul for taunting after a dunk late in the second half of Friday’s victory against Charleston’s Capital High School, the No. 2-ranked team in the state. Mayo caught the ball after it went through the net and strutted toward the free-throw line still holding the ball.

After being whistled for the technical, he walked to midcourt, where players from both teams had gathered and were jawing. Mayo then walked away, tucking in his shirt and looking at the sky.

The second technical was called after Mayo walked back toward the players gathered at halfcourt. On the video, he did not appear to say or do anything.

But when the official Mike Lazo walked over to the scorer’s table to report the technical, Mayo followed him. Mayo appeared to make subtle contact with Lazo, his shoulder brushing up against Lazo’s back. Lazo then dropped suddenly to the ground. On the video, it appears that little contact was made and that Lazo’s fall was exaggerated."
That's pretty much the same impression that I had after watching the video.

More developments are expected through the day prior to tip-off tonight at Duke.

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