East St. Louis out of playoffs
St. Clair County's 20th Judicial Court judge Richard Aguirre lifted the restraining order against the Illinois High School Association on Thursday, allowing for it to move forward with its decision to remove East St. Louis from the 2010 state football playoffs, the IHSA has confirmed.
East St. Louis had received the restraining order last week, permitting it to play in the opening round of the playoffs. The Flyers defeated Belleville West on Saturday. Belleville West will return to the playoffs and face Belleville East this week.
The Illinois High School Association announced Wednesday night that after giving East St. Louis additional due process that the Flyers had still been found guilty of violating the association's residency by-laws and would have to forfeit 10 wins from their 2009 season, five wins from this season and be removed from the current playoff field.
The IHSA had made the same ruling last week, but East St. Louis received a temporary restraining order against the IHSA, permitting the Flyers to play in the opening round of the Class 7A playoffs.
"We respectfully followed the guidelines put forth by [the St. Clair County's 20th Judicial Court] in allowing additional time for the East St. Louis Senior High School administration to review the pertinent information in this investigation," IHSA executive director Marty Hickman said in a statement. "Ultimately, we reached the conclusion that East St. Louis Senior High School did not have the procedures in place to comply with our rules and regulations."
The IHSA plans to return to court on Thursday to have the temporary restraining order lifted.
"In order for the ruling that we made today to go into effect, legally, the restraining order must first be absolved," Hickman said.
The IHSA previously discovered two East St. Louis players had violated the association's residency by-laws. One player was ruled ineligible on Oct. 14 and a second on Oct 22.
The Flyers went undefeated during the regular season and were ranked nationally by ESPN RISE.
East St. Louis, a No. 1 seed, was scheduled to play at Belleville East in the second round of the playoffs on Saturday with the winner playing either Minooka or Plainfield South in the quarterfinals. Minooka lost to East St. Louis in the playoffs last season.
"It's just a sad situation," Minooka coach Bert Kooi said by phone on Wednesday. "There's two sides to the whole story. We were knocked out last year by East St. Louis. Last year by the ruling, they would have to forfeit all their games, but that does us no good now. I don't know the whole story. I'm not going to pass judgment on another school."
Scott Powers covers high school and college sports for ESPNChicago.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.