News on this coming in from Jason Queen at the Lexington Dispatch(www.the-dispatch.com)
Shelby Post 82, which has lost twice in the double-elimination tournament, but got one of those overturned via protest — moves to the finals today at 12:30pm… Shelby will have to beat the Gaston Braves, who opened Monday’s slate with an 8-1 win over Shelby, twice to win the state title.
On the Post 87 High Point HiToms disqualification from the American Legion Baseball State Tournament at Lexington’s Holt-Moffitt Field, I do think what the Post 87 HiToms assistant coach Elliot is saying, really sums it all up best….
First off, as an assistant coach for Post 87, I want to clarify that I am not on here to rant. I am only here to state facts that have come to light over the last two days.
There are many layers to this entire situation so I will list them:
1) The interpretation of “dual-participation”
– Dual-participation is when a player participates in game action as a member of another team and is displayed on their roster (showcase, travel ball, etc.) The player in question from our team was not on another roster. He simply attended a camp as an individual and completed a workout.
2) American Legion’s relationship with Baseball Factory
– The partnership letter found at this link (http://www.baseballfactory.com/article/1770/american_legion_and_baseball_factory_form_strategic_partnership) states, “Baseball Factory announced today a strategic partnership with The American Legion that will provide amateur players with new opportunities to develop their baseball skills and fulfill their dream of playing college baseball. The organizations will work together to provide American Legion members with instructional camps, showcases and baseball clinics to supplement their experience with their local American Legion team. This will hopefully increase their success both on and off the field.” If a strategic partnership is formed, how is this a violation of attending a non-sanctioned camp? Wouldn’t any camp that falls under the Baseball Factory umbrella be considered sanctioned? If there are some that aren’t sanctioned, how is anyone supposed to know if that disclosure is not made in any of its publications?
3) Mike Buss’ letter to American Legion coaches
– A letter is sent out to American Legion coaches to remind them that Baseball Factory is a resource that “provides student-athletes with world-class instruction, life-changing experiences and new college recruiting opportunities.” It also reiterates Baseball Factory’s ongoing relationship with American Legion Baseball by stating that this “partnership affords Legions players the opportunity to gain added exposure through Baseball Factory’s program and a necessary advantage in the college recruiting process.” Not to mention, they pay $30,000 a year for access to American Legion rosters, which include student-athletes contact information for recruiting purposes. If they are paying American Legion to solicit student-athletes to come to events, how can a player be deemed ineligible for attending. Conflict of interest much?
4) Shelby’s coaching staff knew, before the tournament started, that the eligibility of a player could be in question.
– Shelby’s coaching staff knew that there could, potentially, be a trivial issue on the eligibility of a player on the HiToms roster. Not because he attended a showcase tournament, but because his name was on the camp list of attendees. They referred to it as their “Ace in the hole” because they knew if they got beat, they would have this protest to fall back on. They agreed that they would return to the hotel after the game, say that their kids found the player online by doing a search, then return to the field to bring it to the attention of the area commissioners. They also agreed not to bring it up at the tournament orientation, where the question about any players eligibility was supposed to be brought to light. That is malicious and it’s collusive.
5) Who has the final ruling over a state tournament?
– Isn’t it logical to think that the state commissioners have the final say on a protest that occurs at a state tournament game? Their first ruling was to deny Shelby’s protest. After Shelby disagreed, they appealed the initial ruling. The state commissioners came back and said that they would deem the player in question ineligible and disqualify him from further play but allow High Point to continue on (This was essentially them trying to straddle the fence and make it agreeable to both teams). Again, Shelby was not happy with that outcome so they appealed that ruling to the National level. The National Legion director came back with a final ruling that stated if that player was ineligible then the entire team was disqualified. How can a team appeal a ruling to the national level after the state issues a ruling (well, 2 rulings) on a state-level tournament?
Bob Figulski, the state commander, later admitted to a former parent (via cell phone) that an innocent team was disqualified but, somehow, he managed to dodge phone calls from our staff and administration when we want to have him process our appeal. Our appeal was submitted to Mr. Figulski to stop the state tournament in North Carolina on the grounds that he improperly interpreted the American Legion/Baseball Factory contract that encourages coaches and players to participate in all Baseball Factory events. We simply asked that the tournament be stopped so we can have clarification of rules. To give our community the answers it deserves.
This is a huge black eye on American Legion Baseball. As a former legion player, I am ashamed that I was once a part a program that operates on such hypocrisy. Our state leadership has failed us. It is an injustice to our players because they are being punished for doing nothing wrong. They are at the mercy of the leaders in our state who are too proud to go back on a decision and make things right. All summer, our players have worked tirelessly to fulfill the dream of becoming state champions. But that dream is now out of reach because of the result of an unethical decision. I will make sure this issue does not rest and I know I am not the only one.