POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — Another break in the action.
Point Pleasant’s home football opener with the YouthBuild Centurions has been cancelled due to a reported breach in contract as the Columbus (OH) based program allegedly has multiple participants on its roster that are over 18 years of age and have also used up their four-year window of high school eligibility.
In a phone call interview with athletic director Kent Price early Monday morning, he said PPHS has called off Friday night’s contest at Ohio Valley Bank Track and Field because of a series of contractual obligations not being met.
According to Price, YouthBuild officials reportedly gave assurances that the football program used only players that met National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) and West Virginia Secondary Sports Athletic Association (WVSSAC) guidelines at the time of the game being signed off on — most notably the requirements of athletes being 18-or-younger and athletes also not having more than four years of eligibility in varsity athletics.
However, after recent weeks of research — and upon obtaining a team roster on Monday morning — Price said he was able to determine that YouthBuild reportedly had at least a handful of players who were born in the year 2000 that had also exhausted their high school eligibility.
In learning of this information, Price terminated the contract with YouthBuild — which means the Big Blacks will be on their third bye in five weeks of regular season gridiron action.
“They haven’t met the obligations of the contract. In doing research, they have kids that are either fifth-year or 19-year-old kids on their roster and team. By our state rules, we cannot participate in a game that has fifth-year or 19-year-old kids on their roster and team. This is information that we didn’t find out until this morning,” Price said. “I had a hard time getting the roster from the school, which finally showed up Monday morning. I called several times last week for the roster, but it didn’t show up until today.
“Now, I want to make it clear that YouthBuild is a legitimate charter school in the Columbus area … and that has been verified by WVSSAC officials. However, given the age and eligibility factors, this is a game that cannot be played due to WVSSAC rules and insurance liabilities. Playing this game would definitely put us at liability … and we just cannot afford to risk it.”
Given the timing of these events, Point Pleasant will not be able to find a replacement game on the schedule for this week — although Price did note that he had already tried.
“There are no games to be added this week that I am aware of. There was a school in Cincinnati that had an opening this week, but they had already picked up a junior varsity opponent for Thursday night. A team in the Harlan Independent Schools district (KY) also had an opening, but they had no interest in playing us,” Price said. “Those were the only openings that I found in the three states around, meaning West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky, on such a short notice.”
As far as affecting Point Pleasant’s playoff status, the cancellation of Friday night’s would-be home opener will have no bearing on their Class AA eligibility.
“The WVSSAC had already determined that the game was not going to count for us in the playoff ratings, but this was more about having a home game and the financial benefit that comes from that,” Price said. “As it is, we still have eight football games and we are still playoff eligible at the Class AA level — and that appears to be where we will stand with things. Basically, from a playoff standpoint, it doesn’t affect anything. We’ve just lost a home game.”
In the end, however, Price felt that the cancellation with YouthBuild was a bit of a no-brainer … given the circumstances of the situation.
“We are a public school, not a charter or an independent or a prep school, so we have to follow the rules and guidelines in front of us,” Price said. “That’s what we are going to do and move forward from this.”
A phone call on behalf of the Point Pleasant Register was not immediately returned by officials at YouthBuild.
The Centurions (1-2) previously played Johnson Central of Paintsville, Ky., Suffield Academy of Suffield, Conn., and the Tri-State Crusaders out of Harlan, Ind. All three contests, like Point Pleasant, were scheduled as road games.
YouthBuild is in its first year as a varsity football program, though it is not a member of the Ohio High School Athletic Association.
In September 2001, YouthBuild Columbus Community School, chartered by the Ohio Department of Education, opened its doors to young adults 17-21 years of age, who, for a variety of reasons, dropped out of the traditional academic environment, but wanted a second chance to earn a high school diploma — according to the school’s website.
YouthBuild — also known as Bishop Sycamore — was removed from the second annual Freedom Bowl back in late August due to a reported breach of contract, per a story from the Daytona Beach News-Journal. The Freedom Bowl is a 12-team event held in Georgia that consists of six football games in a single day.
Point Pleasant returns to action on Friday, Oct. 4, when it makes its home debut against Bluefield on Hall of Fame night. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.