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Friday, June 14, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Ousted Teen Quarterback Nails Oklahoma Agency

(CN) - An Oklahoma high school quarterback was unfairly disqualified from competing in the state championship game, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled.

Brayden Scott was the starting quarterback at Sequoyah School, a federal Indian boarding school in Talequah, Okla., operated by the Cherokee Nation.

The Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association suspended Scott, his head coach and some of his teammates, claiming that they had violated the OHSAA's prohibition on schools paying for their players to attend football camp.

After the association ordered Sequoyah to forfeit all of its victories and miss the playoffs, a Cherokee County judge denied Scott's request for a permanent injunction.

On the first day of the playoffs, the Oklahoma Supreme Court refused to grant Scott an emergency writ of mandamus.

Scott finally found success on Oct. 1 when the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled, 7-2, that "under any standard of review, the OSSAA's determinations were arbitrary and capricious."

The majority found that, while Scott attended camps as early as 2009, the OSSAA prohibitions were not published until the 2011-12 school year.

It "was arbitrary and capricious" for OSSAA to try applying the prohibitions retroactively to the 11 camp attendances by Scott that occurred prior to July 1, 2011, "without any justification and in disregard of the underlying facts," Justice Yvonne Kauger wrote for the majority.

OSSAA's imposition of penalties against schools to cover the association's attorney fees "disturbs the court," Kauger added.

The court's conclusion notes that Scott's camp attendance "represent[s] a small portion of the laundry list of violations of which Scott is accused."

Kauger stated, however, that "the overall character of the OSSAA's investigation and application of its own rules is of such an arbitrary and capricious nature that as to Scott it must be thrown out in its entirety."

In addition, this case will result in a limitation on the OSSAA's power, the court said. "This court has permitted the OSSAA, in the guise of a voluntary association, to govern the affairs of secondary school athletics in Oklahoma with near impunity," Kauger wrote. "No more."

The court's oversight of the OSSAA will be the same as its oversight of state agencies, according to the ruling.

"The OSSAA wields too much control over (students') future to be allowed to act in an arbitrary and capricious manner in applying its rules," Kauger wrote. "It must be reasonable, it must be conscientious and it must be fair. From now on, we trust, it will be."

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