E.A. Sports Today

Doing better

Fines for high school sports programs in the state down 4.1 percent from previous year; Piedmont, Saks among 99 designated Sportsmanship Schools
By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today 
When Weaver principal Mike Allison saw last year’s high school fines and ejections report he wasn’t a happy administrator. His Bearcats had the most ejections among Calhoun County sports teams and he was determined to do something about it. 
He instituted a zero-tolerance policy towards unsportsmanlike conduct in his athletics department, to the degree those penalized would be responsible for paying the associated fine and ineligible to return to the field until they had done so.

The policy covered players, coaches and parents; in effect, Weaver High School was out of the fine-paying business. Allison got his message across.
The Bearcats’ number of fineable incidents reduced dramatically during the 2018-19 school year. They had seven among their varsity teams last year and only four this year – three ejections – for a total of $600 in fines. One of the ejections was for a player leaving the bench during the season-opening football game. Their most costly infraction was a $300 fine for breaking the football practice by-law when a player attended a Florida camp in full gear. The player paid the fine.
“I think a lot of teeth got put into it because every one of the fines was paid by the family,” Allison said. “It makes them think twice about acting out when they know they’ve got to pay it.
“It’s still not where it needs to be, but it’s a lot better than it was. Of course, our ultimate goal is get it down to zero, but I am pleased with the progress and we will keep working and emphasizing sportsmanship.”
All told, Calhoun County’s 15 high schools were assessed $4,950 in fines for ejections and administrative penalties this past school year. They resulted from 24 ejections – three to coaches – three by-law violations, two failure to attend rules clinics, one audit and two failures to report Friday night football scores in a timely manner. There were no unsportsmanlike “incidents” among Calhoun County programs.
Junior high and middle school programs in the county faced another combined $550 in fines.
Each ejection comes with a $300 fine, but the offenders can reduce that to $100 by taking the state’s sportsmanship class.
Class 1A Donoho had the most ejections among county schools this year – five, three in football – while Pleasant Valley had four (three in football) and Oxford three.
Donoho has instituted policies similar to Weaver in hopes of keeping the incidents down – ejections come with an automatic additional one-game suspension and players’ families must pay the fine.
“We take how our kids act very seriously; the demeanor of our kids on and off the field needs to be good,” Falcons athletics director Steve Gendron said. “Anybody who’s played athletics has made mistakes one way or another. What we can try to do as administrators and coaches when these kids make mistakes you hold them accountable.
“We’ve set some things in motion even though it’s not mandated by the state, (so) it’s a serious deal. Kids are kids, they’re going to make mistakes and it’s a matter of how they bounce back from it. Those who made mistakes have done a great job of not repeating that behavior.”
Piedmont and Saks were recognized among 99 schools statewide as Sportsmanship Schools for being ejection-free and having no more than one non-sportsmanship fine. Saks was most heavily assessed last year ($1,350).

“I’m proud of my coaches, proud of our athletes,” Saks principal Jody Whaley said. “The parents of our athletes spend a huge amount of quality time with them; that makes all the difference. When parents and coaches work together great things can and will continue to happen for our student-athletes.”

Ohatchee came within 18 minutes of joining them, but were fined $100 for failing to report the score of its 70-22 Homecoming football win over West End that ended at 10:30 p.m. “in a timely manner.” It would have been two straight years without an ejection, illegal player or administrative snafu. 
Statewide, school fines were down 4.1 percent from the previous year, the AHSAA said in releasing its annual fines and ejections report. A total of 548 student-athletes and 70 coaches were ejected during the school year; there were another 20 total in middle and junior high school programs.
Last year Calhoun County schools were fined a total of 46 times for a combined $8,825 across varsity, junior high and middle school programs.
Here is a lineup of Calhoun County incidents and fines:
Alexandria 2-$400 (2 ejections-basketball; softball coach)
Anniston 4-$600 (2 ejections-both football)
Donoho 5-$100 (5 ejections-3 football; basketball; soccer)
Faith Christian 2-$600
Jacksonville 3-$450 (2 ejections-both football)
JCA 1-$300
Ohatchee 1-$100
Oxford 3-$300 (3 ejections-2 football; soccer)
Pleasant Valley 4-$600 (4 ejections-3 football; basketball coach)
Sacred Heart 1-$100 (1 ejection-basketball)
Weaver 4-$600 (3 ejections-football; basketball; baseball)
Wellborn 1-$300 (1 ejection-baseball coach)
White Plains 1-$100 (1 ejection-baseball)
NOTE: Piedmont and Saks had zero ejections and fines.

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