Forfeit call overturned, King HS football game back on

- The big game is back on for Detroit King High School after it was deemed a forfeit as punishment for an after-game brawl with a rival football team, FOX 2 has learned. However, the team will be missing some players as those deemed "the agressors" have been suspended from the game.

After King beat Cody High School in the semifinals last week, the two teams got in a fight. The fight resulted in Cody's entire football team being suspended for the rest of the season and the coaching staff was placed on an indefinite suspension. As for King, players were suspended for a few days and their upcoming matchup against Cass Tech on Friday was forfeited.

Parents and students were angered by the punishment, saying it was unfair because Cody players started the fight. They also argued major college scouts were planning to be at the game.

The school board voted to overturn the forfeit. They were waiting to receive final word from the emergency manager of the Public School League, which came in Tuesday afternoon.

"After meeting with the DPS Athletic Director, administrators and public safety staff, as well as the MLK football coaches, I have made the decision to allow the game to proceed as scheduled at Ford Field," Darnell Earley said in a news release.

The PSL championship game will be played against Cass Tech Friday at Ford Field.

As for those deemed to be the aggressors, the King players are suspended from Friday's game, and Cody players will be prohibited from playing in the first game of the 2016-2017 school year. Both football programs are on probation for one year, and must forfeit their 2016 preseason scrimmages. Both must also participate in a behavioral program and do community service.

You can read the full statement from Earley below.

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"I have reviewed the facts that led to the previously announced forfeiture of the PSL Division I Football Championship by Martin Luther King Jr. Sr. High School to Cass Technical High School. And, after meeting with the DPS Athletic Director, administrators and public safety staff, as well as the MLK football coaches, I have made the decision to allow the game to proceed as scheduled at Ford Field on Friday, October 23, 2015.

I do, however, strongly believe that there must be some accountability and repercussions felt by those involved for their actions. We are identifying the aggressors from both teams who initiated the fight that took place after the Division Semi-Final game on Friday, October 16, 2015. The King players will be suspended from play in Friday's championship game, and Cody players will be prohibited from playing in the first game of the 2016-17 school year. These actions are in accordance with District policies, which are consistent with Michigan High School Athletic Association guidelines. Additionally, those players and others involved from both teams will be charged under the District's Student Code of Conduct.

All other disciplinary sanctions will stand, including the football programs at both schools being placed on probation for one year and forfeiting their 2016-preseason scrimmages.

Further, all players from both the King and Cody teams will be required to participate in the District's Restorative Practices behavior intervention program in conjunction with their continued athletic engagement and perform a substantial amount of community service. These provisions will be vigorously enforced.

A key factor in my decision was the fact that the King High School coaches took full responsibility for the actions of their players and will be rededicating themselves to ensuring that their players understand the important role good sportsmanship plays not just in high school, but in life.

This is an opportunity for a teachable moment that I believe can be helpful in dealing with the bigger problem of violence in our community and the responsibility our young people share in working toward a better school environment and climate.

I commend the King football coaches for stepping up and serving as role models for their players.

While I am a firm believer in the letter of the law, I also know that in the spirit of the law, if we have an opportunity to shape a student's life in a positive way for the long-term, it is incumbent upon us as adults to not only model the way, but also find more constructive compromises when available.

Finally, it should be noted that I fully endorse and support Athletic Director Alvin Ward's decision to indefinitely suspend the Cody High School Varsity Football coaching staff."

 

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