Maine South High School’s entire 2022 football season invalidated due to ineligible players: IHSA – Chicago Tribune newstrendslive

In a major development for high school football in the suburbs, football powerhouse Maine South High School’s robust 2022 football season results were invalidated by the Illinois High School Association, which announced the sanctions Wednesday saying the Park Ridge school had used players who were ineligible because they lived outside the attendance boundaries.

In a rare action, the IHSA knocked out the Hawks’ nine victories of the 2022 season, including two playoff wins, against Barrington High School, Bolingbrook High School, Evanston High School, Glenbrook North High School, Glenbrook South High School, New Trier High School, Niles West High School, South Elgin High School, and Stevenson High School, according to an IHSA announcement.

Additionally, the program — one of the most consistent winners in the state — will be placed on probation through the end of the 2023-2024 school year, according to the statement, which also indicated Maine South has been formally notified that future violations may result in removal from the IHSA state football playoffs.

The Maine South Hawks have had an enviable success record in football in recent decades. The team has won six state championships under Head Coach David Inserra, who has held been head or assistant coach for 28 years.

That made Wednesday’s announcement come as a surprise to residents of the Park Ridge, Niles and Harwood Heights area from which the school draws students. Maine South is one of three high schools within Maine Township High School District 207.

“The IHSA recently received credible information that Maine South football players who did not reside in the district participated on the team during the 2022 IHSA football season,” IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said in a statement.

“District 207 and Maine South High School personnel promptly conducted a meticulous internal investigation, in conjunction with the IHSA, after being informed of these allegations. After a thorough review, they self-reported violations of the IHSA residence by-laws by multiple student-athletes on its 2022 football roster.”

A district spokesman said he could not reveal the specific number of players involved to protect their identities.

“We fully support the IHSA and accept the sanctions,” District 209 Superintendent Ken Wallace said. “Along with Maine South football coach David Inserra, we will work diligently to ensure this never happens again. Coach Inserra is a dedicated educator and coach, and we know that he will work tirelessly with us to eliminate this issue.

“We need to follow the rules and regulations set forth by the IHSA, as well as the law in Illinois related to school residency. In this situation, I am most disappointed for the student-athletes on the 2022 Maine South football team who will bear the brunt of these penalties. Because of our location and the quality of our schools, we have always had instances of families trying to send students to our schools without establishing legal residency.”

District 207 said it was made aware of potential residency violations involving the football program, launching investigations which led to a finding that multiple non-resident students had participated on the Fall 2022 team, according to a district statement.

Once the investigations and appropriate student due process were completed, the district notified the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) to self-report the violations which led to the harsh penalties.

“The IHSA’s by-laws are the foundation of the (IHSA) and its ability to follow its mission of providing equitable participation,” Anderson wrote. “With over 800 member schools, we depend on our schools to adhere to these rules and to work with the IHSA in instances where violations may have occurred.

“I commend Maine Township High School District 207 and Maine South High School personnel for recognizing the serious nature of these allegations and their diligence in investigating and reporting these violations. I believe that District 207 has already begun to take appropriate steps to prevent future issues like this from occurring again and will (sic) aid them in any way that I can in that process.”

Invalidating a high school program’s entire season results is an extremely serious position for the IHSA to take.

Colleges and universities have had tough penalties imposed on them by the NCAA due to severe recruiting violations, coaching malfeasance or criminal behavior. Southern Methodist University in Dallas once had the “death penalty” thrown at them, with the NCAA forcing the school to shut down its football program.

The well-known Jackie Robinson West Little League program on Chicago’s South Side had its 2014 national championship stripped by Little League’s governing body after a whistleblower revealed a number of key players lived outside the boundaries for eligible players.

JRW was so popular as an inner-city program going up against well-funded suburban and smaller-city teams that then-Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel threw a celebratory parade for the kids through downtown. JRW shortstop Ed Howard is now a rising star in the Chicago Cubs minor-league organization.

Maine South won seven games in 2022′s regular season and two games in the playoffs, against Bolingbrook and South Elgin. Glenbard West knocked out the Hawks 37-34 in a third-round playoff game on November 12.

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