OHS players deemed ineligible to play for 30 days

Three Ottumwa High School athletes, two football players and one cross-country runner, have been deemed ineligible after participating in recent contests.

The athletic office became aware of both situations at the end of last week and immediately reported the incidents to the Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA).

â??Weâ??re sickened that it happened. But if there is a good thing, the fact that we caught it now, early in the season, is a good thing,â?? said Tom Kopatich, OHS Athletic Director.

The two ineligible football players were both transfer students.

The school has lists that are checked to see if athletes are academically eligible, however, these two players were not on that list and it was later found out that they were deemed academically ineligible.

A red flag was raised for staff after another student recently transferred to the district and did not meet eligibility requirements.

â??And it made me think, that we've had an awful (lot), this year we've had quite the high of number of transfer students come to Ottumwa. Have we gotten everybody? [That] made us think -- what about some of these transfer kids? We better go back and check, so that's how we caught it,â?? said Kopatich.

Kopatich said that the ineligible cross-country runner was just accidentally overlooked.

The school has been forced to forfeit any games and contests the players participated in and is required to send the state their plans to avoid this in the future.

â??We're going to route all the new students through the Welcome Center. We're going to have a form that's filled out. We're going to have to make sure we communicate with coaches. I'm probably going to need to meet with every coach individually just from an eligibility standpoint before each season to review anytime we get a new transfer student,â?? said Kopatich.

The players will be ineligible to play for 30 days.

Kopatich said this will not affect district play or playoffs since it was caught early.