Monday, December 11, 2017

Precedent Set, Georgia Faces 2nd Judgment Call Protest

Seven months after a Georgia high school baseball team protested an umpire's judgment call, the GHSA is facing another call to overturn a referee's on-field judgment decision, this time in football.

A judgment call is heading back to the board.
Baseball Background: In May, Lee County High School defeated Johns Creek in the Georgia High School Association Class 6A semifinal in controversial fashion. With two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the final regulation inning of a tied ballgame, Johns Creek worked a walk and began celebrating as the runner from third touched home plate.

Lee County appealed that the runner from second failed to touch his forced base (third base), and the runner was declared out; because of the forced-to-advance situation under NFHS rules, the run was nullified and the game proceeded to extra innings, where Lee County won the game.
Related PostAsk the UEFL - Protested Game-Ending Appeal Force Play (5/18/17).

Protest and Precedent: Johns Creek protested to the GHSA that the umpires made an error in declaring R2 out for failing to touch third base. Although then-GHSA Executive Director Gary Phillips ruled the umpires' decision a judgment call and, therefore, not subject to protest, GHSA counsel Alan Connell allowed Johns Creek to come before the GHSA as long as they dropped their "protest" and picked up an "appeal" instead.

Johns Creek submitted a revised "appeal," and the GHSA Appeals Board subsequently denied the appeal, affirming the umpire's on-field ruling. Johns Creek then petitioned the GHSA Board of Trustees and Trustees President Glenn White overturned the umpire's on-field judgment call, saying "The wrong call was made." Video evidence is inconclusive; however, GHSA Bylaw 2.92(e) states, "The National Federation prohibits the use of video tape to review an official's decision."

For what it's worth, White had previously attempted to force Phillips out by voting to recommend he resign; Phillips was replaced in May 2017 by Robin Hines, who was recommended by the Board of Trustees for the job. Meanwhile, Georgia State Representative John Meadows supported a bill to replace the GHSA with a new statewide governing body, acknowledging that he receives "more complains about the GHSA—from schools, referee, coaches and parents—than about everything else put together."
Related PostDangerous Precedent - GHSA Overturns Judgment Call (5/22/17)

Anticipating backlash for his decision to overturn a judgment call, White wrote, "We have set a precedent, so we need to get ready because there will probably be other people coming to see us."

White's anticipated day of reckoning has arrived in the form of another judgment call "appeal"—this time in football.

An incomplete pass on fourth down in GA.
Peach County High School Football Call: A petition circulated by Dimetria Whittaker of Fort Valley, GA calls on the GHSA to overturn a football official's judgment call of "incomplete pass"; Whittaker—and Peach County HS, which supports the petition—are asking GHSA change the call to that of "touchdown," and, in doing so, disregard GHSA Bylaw 2.92(e) regarding the prohibition of video replay in Georgia high school sports. Following Johns Creek's lead, Peach County is bypassing the lower GHSA bodies and going straight to the GHSA Board of Trustees and President Glenn White with an appeal, not a protest.

The controversy occurred with 3:40 remaining in the fourth quarter of the GHSA Football Class AAA championship game between Calhoun and Peach County on December 8. Down 10-6, Peach County attempted a pass play on fourth down, with receiver Noah Whittington appearing to catch the pass en route to the end zone. However, the play was declared incomplete as the ball rolled on the ground when Whittington extended it over the goal line. At least one commenter posited that Whittington had stepped out of bounds to evade his defender prior to catching the pass, which would be a foul for illegal participation, as in NFHS Rule 9-6-2, which states, "No player shall intentionally go out of bounds during the down and: a. Return to the field; b. Intentionally touch the ball; c. Influence the play; or d. Otherwise participate." The penalty for illegal participation is a loss of 15 yards (not an incomplete pass).
Related VideoPeach County incomplete pass at 4Q 3:40 wipes out possible late TD


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