Highlands' top running back ruled ineligible

December 01, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

Michael Mitchell, top running back for Highlands, has been ruled ineligible and as of today will not be able to play in Saturday's Class AAA state championship game against Boyle County.

Mitchell transferred to Highlands from Covington Catholic before the season started. The Kentucky High School Athletic Association immediately declared him ineligible. Ted Martin, attorney for the KHSAA Board of Control ruled that he did not have a bona fide change of address. Mitchell then got a temporary injunction from a Campbell County circuit judge allowing him to play.

"We appealed to the court of appeals immediately, and they issued a ruling Monday vacating the ruling," Martin said. "He is ineligible right now."

Martin said he isn't sure if that could change based on any action Mitchell's attorney might take.

Martin said any decision on what will happen to Highlands for using Mitchell in 14 games won't be made until after this weekend.


"There is a potential for sanctions for allowing him to participate, but there is nothing that will keep Highlands from playing in the game Saturday," Martin said.

That's because KHSAA Bylaw 24, Section 1, says: "When a student is declared ineligible, all contests in which he/she has played while ineligible shall be forfeited to the opposing team except that this may not apply to state championship competition."

Mitchell ran for 156 yards and one score in Highlands' 21-0 win over Boyle Sept. 17. He leads Highlands with 616 yards rushing and nine touchdowns this season.

Highlands coaches were said to be in a meeting this morning and unavailable for comment.

Boyle County coach Chuck Smith said not having Mitchell won't change his team's approach.

"I wish he could play. We want them to be at full strength," Smith said. "But we can't let it change what we are doing. We are going to prepare just like always and see what happens Saturday."

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