District hosts press conference on ineligible player used by Topsail girls basketball team

District hosts press conference on ineligible player used by Topsail girls basketball team

BURGAW, N.C. (WECT) - Pender County Schools held a news conference Tuesday to answer questions about the Topsail High School girl’s basketball team using an ineligible player during the season.

The violation was self-reported to the North Carolina High School Athletics Association, who ordered the Pirates forfeit ten wins and pay a fine.

The athlete in question previously attended Topsail High School before leaving to attend school in another district. In the fall of 2019, she returned to Topsail High School and requested to be re-enrolled. According to Pender County Schools, documents provided to the school showed that the student lived outside of the Pender County. However, a miscommunication and an inaccuracy during the data entry process caused an address inside Pender County to be entered, making the student athlete eligible to play.

The school district is taking full responsibility for the mistake.

"It’s up to us to notify the parents that you don’t live inside of Pender County,” said Communications Coordinator Alex Riley. “Your child shouldn’t attend school here unless you reside inside of Pender County. Our school staff over at Topsail has felt gutted because of this whole thing. Because they know it’s something they should have caught.”

No disciplinary action has been taken, but Pender County Schools is still investigating.

“There are reviews being done,” said Riley. “Interviews are being done to make sure we identify how this happened. What went wrong and make sure something like this never happens again at any school, not just Topsail.”

This is the second Topsail High School sports team that has forfeited wins for using an ineligible player. In the spring of 2019, the Topsail baseball team was ruled to have used a player that was academically ineligible because of grades. This time, the district says that the athletic department did everything correctly.

"The athletic department was reviewing the student’s file,” said Riley. “So, an address inside of Pender County and grades that were good enough to be eligible. All things that you look for like attendance was good. All the things that you look forward to make sure the athlete was eligible to play. But unfortunately, before that file got to the athletic department, there was the inaccuracy entered.”

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