TAHLEQUAH — A special district judge on Friday ruled the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association could not declare 12 Tahlequah-Sequoyah players ineligible before allowing them due process and investigating alleged violations.
OSSAA attorney Mark Grossman and Executive Director Ed Sheakley attended Friday’s show-cause hearing in Cherokee County District Court, along with four local attorneys representing the Sequoyah players: Tim Baker, brother of Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker; Deanna Wales; CN Attorney General Todd Hembree; and former Principal Chief Chad Smith, who had filed requests to intervene in the case.
Kirkley on Thursday had granted a temporary injunction against an OSSAA ruling that eight Sequoyah players were ineligible for alleged policy infractions.
The hearing Friday morning began with Grossman asking the judge to dismiss Thursday’s temporary restraining order, which Kirkley denied. Grossman then objected to Kirkley’s handling the hearing, and said a district judge should be deciding the matter.
Kirkley told Grossman that District Judge Darrell Shepherd and Associate District Judge Dennis Shook were tied up with other cases, and Associate District Judge Mark Dobbins was also unavailable.
“I went through a list, believe me,” Kirkley told Grossman.
Wales and Baker represent several Sequoyah players who were ruled ineligible by the OSSAA, and requested that Kirkley’s decision affect all players who had been ruled ineligible, regardless of whether they had officially filed for a temporary injunction.
The OSSAA last week said eight players on Sequoyah’s football team violated an association policy that dictates who is and is not allowed to pay for players’ summer camp tuition.
Four other Sequoyah players learned Thursday night they had also been ruled ineligible on similar allegations.
Wales and Baker both argued the students wouldn’t have known about the rule, and Wales contended she had a difficult time locating a specific policy on which the OSSAA had based its ruling. She said the OSSAA never put into writing its basis for the decision to rule players ineligible.