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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – Walker High School has been placed on restrictive probation for the rest of the 2013 football season, the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) said in a statement on Thursday.
Cullman High School has been placed on non-restrictive probation for one year. Both schools have been fined $1,500 for “flagrant and unsportsmanlike conduct” stemming from an on-field brawl during the season opening game on Aug. 30.
The AHSAA says restrictive probation means Walker High School cannot participate in any postseason play. The school is also prohibited from “participating in an interscholastic football contest involving more than two schools, including championships, for the duration of the restrictive probation.”
Former Walker High School John Holladay, who announced his resignation Tuesday, and Cullman assistant coach Matt Hopper have been suspended for the rest of the season for their involvement in the fight.
“Walker High School is very saddened by these events and accepts these penalties. We apologize for the behavior that was exhibited and pledge to emphasize and put into place the measures necessary to prevent this kind of behavior in the future by a Walker High School student, coach or teacher,” Walker High School Principal Gary Boling said in a statement.
Boling says the school also plans to develop a program for student-athletes and coaches to provide an education-based sportsmanship message for the “students, parents, teams and community.”
Cullman City Schools Superintendent Dr. Doreen Griffeth released a statement Thursday afternoon stating the district’s personnel cooperated fully with the AHSAA during the investigation.
“In accordance with our membership [in the AHSAA], we will abide by the sanctions that have been imposed and we look forward to turning a difficult event into a bridge to increased sportsmanship across all of our athletic programs,” she said.
Griffeth says the district regrets that such an outstanding contest will be remembered for the events that happened following the game.
“The AHSAA encourages the two schools to work together to enhance relations between their student-athletes and communities and, in doing so, demonstrate the leadership necessary to foster the AHSAA’s mission of good sportsmanship in interscholastic athletics,” AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese said in a statement.
According to the AHSAA, Walker High School was on non-restrictive probation because of a flagrant unsportsmanlike incident during the 2012. The program was warned that if a similar type of incident arose during the program’s probationary period, then restrictive sanctions would be handed down.
Additionally, Walker High School will be subject to a second year of restrictive probation if John Holladay is the head football coach. If not, Walker High School’s sanctions will be reduced to a non-restrictive probation for the 2014 season.
Cullman High School has been warned by the AHSAA that if another incident occurs in the future, the AHSAA will hand down restrictive sanctions.
The AHSAA recommended players and coaches from both schools complete a professional development session to be given through the AHSAA’s mentoring program. If the players and coaches agree to take part in the program, the school’s $1,500 fine will be reduced to $1,000.
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