CINCINNATI – The Ohio High School Athletic Association has punished Dayton Public Schools following a bizarre game-fixing incident that resulted in Princeton’s football team – innocent bystanders in the affair - losing a playoff spot last season.
An attempt to fix the final regular-season game between two DPS schools, Dunbar and Belmont, so both teams could make the playoffs unraveled and exposed the use of an ineligible player by Dunbar in the final two games, the OHSAA confirmed Friday.
As a result of Dunbar forfeiting those two games, Princeton lost computer points for beating Dunbar earlier in the season and Anderson finished ahead of Princeton in the final computer ratings to win the last playoff spot in Division II, Region 8.
In a release, OHSAA Commissioner Dr. Dan Ross called the game-fixing attempt “among the most serious and disturbing incidents I have seen because it strikes at the very core of what high school sports are all about.”
Here’s what happened in the Dunbar-Belmont game, according to the OHSAA following an investigation:
“At halftime, with Dunbar leading by 20 points, Dunbar’s athletic director and football coaches met with Dayton Public Schools Athletic Administrator Mark Baker. While the exact details of that conversation are in conflict, it was proven that when the third quarter began, Dunbar players began to deliberately give the football to Belmont in an effort to lose the game intentionally, as they had been told that a Dunbar loss coupled with a Belmont win would get both teams into the playoffs and Dunbar would not have to report using an ineligible player in that game.
“Game officials stopped the contest in the third quarter and instructed coaches to tell their players to play the game correctly or risk stoppage of the game and further ramifications.”
Without specifically blaming Baker or Dunbar’s coaches or athletics director, the OHSAA rebuked Dayton Public Schools and imposed the following penalties:
Three years’ probation for all Dayton Public Schools for a lack of administrative responsibility and institutional control;
$10,000 fine to the school district;
Requirement that DPS athletic administrators attend meetings with the OHSAA compliance staff.
The OHSAA also said the membership of Dayton Public Schools would be “in jeopardy” if similar violations occur while the district is on probation.
“Even more significant penalties were discussed, but we didn’t want to harm the kids because they were the ones caught in the middle of this,” Ross said.