Legal action delays boys soccer playoffs, IHC barred from competing

Published: Oct. 19, 2022 at 2:03 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Going from the soccer field to the courtroom - all Section III Class D boys soccer playoffs are delayed by a day because of a legal battle that ultimately barred Immaculate Heart Central from playing.

First-round games were supposed to begin Wednesday, but a dispute over IHC player eligibility has pushed back tournaments until Thursday.

Last Friday, the New York State High School Athletic Association excluded the IHC boys soccer team from the tournament, saying three players are ineligible.

IHC took NYSPHAA and Section III to state supreme court to fight the decision. Wednesday evening, IHC said its appeal was denied, meaning its team won’t be playing in the tournament.

The school had argued the boys soccer team should be restored to the tournament bracket because “IHC and its student athletes will be irreparably harmed because they will be deprived of the opportunity to participate in the playoffs where, but for the respondents’ improper actions, IHC would have enjoyed a hard-earned No. 1 seed and favorable prospects for winning the sectional championship.”

NYSPHAA alleged that three members of the IHC boys soccer team were “unduly influenced to participate” because of the partnership with the Black Rock Club soccer program.

The program attracts soccer players from around the world. The players pay tuition to attend IHC.

They also pay room and board fees to live at the old St. Anthony’s convent near the church on Arsenal Street.

IHC denied using influence to get the three soccer players to transfer or enter the school for athletic purposes.

“These students did not transfer to IHC to play interscholastic soccer for the school team. Quite the opposite: they wanted to enroll in IHC for the academic and faith-based experience while playing soccer for the elite Black Rock club team,” the school argues in its petition to the court.

In a news release Wednesday evening, IHC said it is disappointed by the decision.