Holy Spirit football forfeits opening win due to use of ineligible player

Holy Spirit, No. 2 in New Jersey and No. 45 in the POWERADE FAB 50 football rankings, has forfeited its season-opening victory for using an academically ineligible player, head coach Charlie Roman told ESPNHS on Thursday.

The Spartans easily won last Friday's opener, 41-16, against Oakcrest, with the player in question participating in backup duty during the contest.

While Roman said he's not sure how the revelation surfaced, he found out Monday morning that there was a question to the academic eligibility of the player, who is a first-year transfer student at Holy Spirit. Roman declined to name the athlete out of respect for him and his family.

"Our first response to the news was that the kid didn't even have a football team at his old school," Roman said. "After doing more research, we found that he didn't have enough credit from his old school to make him academically eligible to play on our football team."

Holy Spirit athletic director proceeded to self-report the issue to the NJSIAA, which later sent down the forfeit ruling on the school.

Roman said the school's normal process for checking a transfer student's eligibility is to go through guidance before reaching out to the athletic department to find out if the student participated in any sports at his previous school. Then they will evaluate how the student's credits translate to the school and state requirements.

"Based on that process, we assumed that he was eligible to play last week," Roman said. "But obviously in this case we incorrectly assumed that he had enough credits from his previous school to play here."

While Roman said he feels terrible for the player, there is a silver lining for Holy Spirit's squad.

"I'm happy that it's not Week 7 and all of sudden we're not eligible for the postseason," Roman said. "The whole situation is unfortunate and disappointing, but by no means is it a disaster for our season."

Holy Spirit will host Absegami on Friday in their continued quest to win the Non-Public, Group 2 title. The Spartans went 12-0 last year en route to the Non-Public, Group 3 crown before dropping down a class for the 2011 campaign.

Brandon Parker covers New Jersey for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.