COLUMBUS – The Ohio High School Athletic Association has announced the conclusion of an investigation into the Dayton Public School District and subsequent penalties stemming from an incident that occurred during Week 10 of the 2016 football season in a game between Dunbar High School and Belmont High School.
The incident occurred when Dunbar football players received instructions at halftime to lose the game intentionally so that the school would not need to report using an ineligible player and so that an additional Dayton Public School would qualify for the playoffs. Game officials stopped the contest in the third quarter and brought both coaches to midfield, instructing them to tell their players to play the game correctly or risk stoppage of the game and further ramifications.
Sanctions include a $10,000 fine issued to the Dayton Public School District, three years probation for all Dayton Public Schools, public reprimand and the requirement that DPS athletic administrators attend required meetings with the OHSAA compliance staff. In addition, if further violations of the same nature occur while the district is on probation, the membership status of all member Dayton Public Schools is in jeopardy.
“This is among the most serious and disturbing incidents I have seen because it strikes at the very core of what high school sports are all about,” OHSAA Commissioner Dr. Dan Ross said. “Our mission is to teach our youngsters about responsibility, fair play and sportsmanship. The vast majority of our coaches and school administrators do that every day. Even more significant penalties were discussed, but we didn’t want to harm the kids because they were the ones caught in the middle of this.”
The incident occurred Oct. 28 at Dayton Welcome Stadium. At halftime, with Dunbar leading by 20 points, Dunbar’s athletic director and football coaches met with Dayton Public Schools Athletic Administrator Mark Baker. While the exact details of that conversation are in conflict, it was proven that when the third quarter began, Dunbar players began to deliberately give the football to Belmont in an effort to lose the game intentionally, as they had been told that a Dunbar loss coupled with a Belmont win would get both teams into the playoffs and Dunbar would not have to report using an ineligible player in that game.
After the officials met with both coaches at midfield, the game was played to its conclusion with no further incidents, but the OHSAA investigation began. It resulted in Dunbar forfeiting its Week 9 and 10 games for using an ineligible player both weeks, thus missing the playoffs, and causing the reshuffling of many playoff qualifiers in Southwest Ohio.
That reshuffling affected a number of Miami County’s teams heading into the playoffs — including bumping one of them out of the postseason entirely.
Piqua had held the eighth and final playoff spot in the Division III, Region 12 standings, but the forfeits gave Belmont enough to jump up from out of contention to the No. 6 spot and knock Piqua out. Tippecanoe, which had been in the No. 7 spot, fell to No. 8 and was forced to open the playoffs against top-seeded Franklin, which the Red Devils lost to in the game’s final minute, 41-40.
It even affected the Troy Trojans in Division II, Region 8. Troy, the No. 1 seed, was set to play No. 8 Cincinnati Princeton in the opening round. But one of Princeton’s wins was over Dunbar, and with Dunbar’s record falling from 9-1 to 7-3, Princeton lost its hold on the eighth spot and was replaced by Cincinnati Anderson — which Troy defeated 41-35.
The violation is of OHSAA Bylaw 3 – Administrative Responsibility and Institutional Control, which is in place to uphold the values and integrity of education-based athletics.
If there are no further violations of this nature by the Dayton Public School District, one year of probation shall be rescinded and $2,500 of the fine shall be refunded.