On March 2, 2023, the Illinois High School Athletic Association (IHSA) announced that Maine South High School's football team will be forced to forfeit all nine victories from their 2022 season due to the use of ineligible players. In this blog, we will explore the details of this incident and its impact on the team and the local community.

Violation of IHSA Bylaw 3.030

The joint investigation between the IHSA, Maine South, and Maine Township High School District 2017 revealed that a number of players did not reside in the school's attendance area during the 2022 season. This is a violation of IHSA bylaw 3.030, which requires student-athletes to attend and reside within the attendance boundaries of the school they represent.

Photography of yellow penalty flag on American Football field.
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Penalties and Consequences

As a result of the violation, Maine South's football program will be put on probation for the 2023 season, with further violations potentially leading to a postseason ban. The team will also have to vacate their nine victories from last season, including two Class 8A playoff wins. The contests that Maine South had to forfeit are as follows:

August 26 – vs Stevenson – 42-3
September 9 – at Barrington – 38-7
September 23 – vs Glenbrook North – 43-0
September 30 – at Maine East – 42-0
October 7 – vs Niles West – 45-7
October 14 – at Evanston – 28-7
October 21 – vs New Trier – 28-21 (OT)
October 28 – vs Bolingbrook (8A Playoffs) – 24-0
November 4 – vs South Elgin (8A Playoffs) – 42-0
Self-Reporting and Internal Investigation

The IHSA praised Maine South and District 207 for conducting a meticulous internal investigation and self-reporting the violations. Such measures demonstrate the school's commitment to upholding the rules and maintaining the integrity of the athletic programs.

Impact on the Team and Community

The forfeitures are a significant setback for the Maine South football team and its players, coaches, and fans. Losing all their wins from last season could affect the team's morale and confidence going into the next season. It may also hurt their chances of making the playoffs or winning a state championship.

The incident also has an impact on the broader community, as high school sports are an essential part of the local culture and identity. Maine South's football program is a source of pride for Park Ridge and surrounding areas, and the forfeitures may disappoint and upset many fans and supporters.

Recruiting and Compliance

The incident highlights the importance of compliance and transparency in high school athletics. School officials and coaches must ensure that they follow all rules and regulations, including those related to eligibility and residency.

It also underscores the need for schools and organizations to recruit and train referees and officials. A decade of declining numbers of officials has resulted in a shortage of referees in Illinois and other states, leading to longer games, rescheduling, and cancellation of some contests.

Maine South High School's football team's forfeitures are a cautionary tale for all high school sports programs. The incident emphasizes the importance of complying with all rules and regulations, conducting internal investigations, and self-reporting any violations. It also highlights the impact of high school sports on local communities and the need for adequate staffing and training of referees and officials.

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