Superintendent: Toros won’t play in soccer playoffs despite judge issuing stay in case
Baldwin County Circuit Judge Scott P. Taylor today issued a temporary restraining order that could have allowed the Fort Spanish Boys Soccer Team to participate in the Class 6A playoff later this week. However, County Superintendent Eddie Tyler has since issued a ruling that appears to make the restraining order a moot point.
The Toros won the Class 6A, Zone 2 championship but were omitted from the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s online playoff pairings after the school reported an eligibility violation.
RELATED: Current AHSAA Football Pairings
Mobile attorney David Allen filed a lawsuit Sunday against Alabama High School Athletic Association executive director Alvin Briggs. The lawsuit, on behalf of parent Kerry DeFelippo, alleged that his son Anthony DeFelippo was ruled ineligible this week after he was initially ruled eligible by an AHSAA staff member last month.
The suit sought a restraining order, restoring DeFelippo’s eligibility and allowing Spanish Fort to play in the playoffs. Taylor granted that reprieve without a hearing Tuesday morning.
“I was surprised,” Allen said. “Judge Taylor looked at it and said, ‘That’s wrong’ and entered the order as requested. The final trial is scheduled for the end of May so, from now on, the child participates and the team is participating in. They would have to overrule an order from a circuit court judge for anything to be different.
AHSAA attorneys responded Tuesday afternoon by filing a motion to dissolve Taylor’s order. However, that may not matter anyway. AHSAA’s response included a letter from Tyler stating in part:
After reviewing the facts and circumstances surrounding the alleged violation and AHSAA’s decision regarding the student’s eligibility, as Superintendent of the Board, I have determined that SFHS will honor AHSAA’s findings and that SFHS will NOT participate in the Spring Football Playoffs.
With the Toros eliminated, Robertsdale (12-5-1) becomes the region’s champion and is set to host St. Paul’s on Saturday. Gulf Shores (5-7-2) would secure second place and move to McGill-Toolen (16-8) on Thursday.
Spanish Fort athletic director Chase Smith could not comment on the matter. Baldwin County athletic director Marty McRae did not immediately return a phone message left by AL.com. Baldwin County reports that project manager Chasity Riddick said in an email that the system could not comment on an ongoing legal issue.
The suit alleges that an AHSAA representative (Marvin Chou) first approved DeFelippo as an eligible player for the Toros this season after Smith inquired about the player’s status last month.
According to a letter from Smith to Chou attached to the lawsuit, DeFelippo’s family lives in the Spanish Fort school zone, but he has lived in Colorado for the past two years. The letter says he played for Philadelphia Union Academy in Denver and then Colorado Rapids Academy for two years. Smith clarified in the letter that both of these organizations have amateur status and that DeFelippo has not received financial compensation.
Allen said DeFelippo played top club football in Colorado but did not live with his family there.
“He was depressed and wanted to come home and play for the home team,” Allen said. “The AD (Smith) said he’s checked similar eligibility issues over 40 times and never had a problem.”
Allen said he thought the case was similar to the Maori Davenport case in 2019. Davenport, then playing women’s basketball for Charles Henderson, was declared ineligible after playing American basketball this summer and accepting payment . A circuit court allowed Davenport to play for his Charles Henderson team, but the case was dropped after the Trojans were upset at the area tournament.
This story will be updated