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In or Out? Messmer/Shorewood Files Injunction for Playoff Berth

Team has enough wins; at issue is WIAA rule about conference affiliation

The Messmer/Shorewood football co-op beat Wayland Academy 48-21 on Friday, giving it a 4-2 conference record and likely playoff qualification.

But whether it actually receives a spot in the 224-team field isn't clear, because the co-op and the WIAA disagree on whether the team is eligible, and the matter is headed to court after the co-op filed an injunction to stop the WIAA from releasing the playoff brackets Saturday as planned.

At issue is the co-op's conference affiliation. Messmer/Shorewood voluntarily left the Woodland Conference following the 2007 season to become an independent, according to a report from WisSports.net. A press release issued by Messmer says the schools learned Thursday that the WIAA did not consider them eligible for the playoffs. WisSports.net reports that this is because teams that leave a conference are not eligible for the playoffs for four years.

However, Messmer/Shorewood is now a full conference member of the Midwest Classic Conference North and played a six-game schedule in that league, ending with a 4-2 record after Friday's win. The schools contend that new affiliation overrides the rule.

According to the statement, earlier this fall the school had been listed on the WIAA site as ineligible for playoff consideration. After seeking clarification, the status was changed on the website but school officials didn't receive an explanation, they say. School officials had believed for weeks that a playoff berth was a possibility.

“I’ve been using our playoff chances for weeks to encourage the athletes," said head coach Drake Zortman in the release. "Playoffs have been an attainable goal this year. That goal has really built a sense of camaraderie. The pride and enthusiasm of the team has been so exciting, even inspirational.”

“As a last step we are pursuing legal options. We feel we owe it to our student athletes, to honor their dedication and significant accomplishments this season,” said Br. Bob Smith, President of Messmer Catholic Schools.

The WIAA home page says playoff brackets will be delayed until 5 p.m. Monday due to "pending litigation." The brackets were originally slated to come out Saturday.

Tiffany Kather October 15, 2011 at 11:48 PM
It's a stupid rule. They should be allowed to play. Come on its not like they are playing for the NFL.
j m October 16, 2011 at 03:57 PM
why is it stupid’s Rules are rules. This coach is teaching kids something and that is if you do not like the rules take somebody to court. Coach new the rules when he changed conferences. If he did not know the rules he should not be coaching or teaching. Basically if he did not know the rules he should of. If a student takes a test and does not know the answer it is wrong, or should the student go to court and change the test the way he wants it.
CW October 16, 2011 at 06:59 PM
We should protest and get the students to carry signs around campus, like they did to protest Scott Walker's agenda. Let's get Messwood players, families and students and start a demonstration, suggestions? CW
Matt Schroeder October 17, 2011 at 03:13 PM
JW -- I think in this case, the rule is open to a little interpretation. If you get out of a conference, you are not eligible for four years. But if you go back into a conference, does that end the four-year rule? It will be interesting to see what happens. It would be great for the team to get in, and barring more information, it seems clear the WIAA did not communicate well with the schools.
steve October 17, 2011 at 10:58 PM
This so-so team is holding the rest of the state "HOSTAGE"! get over yourselves and learn to comprehend the written word. Dropping out of a conference dictates loss of playoff eligibility for 4 years! What can't you people understand?!?
Micheal Foley October 17, 2011 at 11:03 PM
Is there going to be a ruling today? Everyone in Hudson is on pins and needles waiting to find out if we'll host a Level 1 game or have to go on the road.
Yard Sale! October 17, 2011 at 11:23 PM
I believe the full rules state that the team is ineligible if it leaves leaves a conference AND does not enter into regularly scheduled season play. By entering another conference and playing a full season of scheduled games Messwood believes that it is eligible.
Matt Schroeder October 18, 2011 at 01:07 AM
@Michael: No ruling today, as I'm sure you know by now. Late Tuesday morning, I believe. @Steve: While it's unfortunate that all the Division 1 and 2 schools must wait until Tuesday to find out their playoff opponents and make plans — at best, it's an inconvenience — I'm not sure it's fair to criticize Shorewood/Messmer's appeal because they're a "so-so" team, in your words. They won the proper number of games in their conference to qualify for the playoffs. Period. Only the interpretation of the rule will determine their fate. So regardless of their ability to compete in the Level 1 game in Division 1, they have just as much right as would Arrowhead to have the question answered. Shame that it's taking so long, for sure.
steve October 18, 2011 at 01:47 PM
Matt, this is an obamanation! If you don't like the rules, lets take it to court and get a handout to the under privileged. Please take your socialist mentality and move to europe.

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