The baseball teams of Beaufort and Hilton Head Island high schools received fines totaling $7,000 earlier this year after the two programs self-reported violations regarding junior varsity players taking part in competition exceeding limits set by the S.C. High School League.
The SCHSL mandates that junior varsity and varsity players are allowed to compete in no more than two tournaments during a season. But both the Seahawks and Eagles mistakenly overlooked that rule after calling JV athletes up to the varsity squad late in the season and promptly paid the price once they reported their missteps to the league.
Beaufort High athletics director Jerry Linn said the Eagles were penalized $1,500 for their transgressions. Hilton Head High was handed down a $5,500 fine, according to former athletics director Mark Karen.
"It was just an honest mistake. I think the same thing happened to Hilton Head," Linn said. "It was just an honest mistake. It's one of those rules where if you don't read the rule book every year, and you don't highlight some of things that could happen, it could bite you.
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"It bit us and it bit them. We were wrong and I paid the fine."
Karen said the players in question for the Seahawks played very little, so he was surprised at the amount of the fine handed down by the league.
Hilton Head High administrators traveled to Columbia in late July to seek a reduction in fines only to see the league deny its appeal, Karen said. Coach Chris Wells directed all questions to current AD Joe Monmonier, who could not be reached for comment.
The Eagles, meanwhile, did not seek a reduction in fines, Linn said.
"The High School League rules, when it comes to illegal participation, are the harshest rules," Linn said. "If you have a kid that illegally participates or practices, they're going to slam you pretty good for that one."
Linn said he learned the Eagles were close to exceeding the allotted number of tournaments and reached Scott Mullen before the first-year coach played his junior varsity athletes in a third tournament. But the rules stipulate that players need only to dress out in order to qualify for a tournament, which they had done.
"I had a community coach," said Linn, who used to coach the Eagles. "He was unaware or not as familiar with the rule as I was."