GHSA rules on Albany High seniors athletic eligibility after closure

Some former Albany High School senior athletes are going to have a tough decision to make after a ruling from the GHSA. / Photo: Jazmyne Hankerson

Former Albany High School senior athletes are going to have a tough decision to make after a ruling from the GHSA.

The Georgia High School Association’s Hardship Committee voted to deny the system’s request to grant senior student-athletes eligibility for their senior year following a hearing Tuesday morning with school system personnel at GHSA Headquarters in Thomaston with according to the Dougherty County School Board.

After the closure of Albany High in June as part of a realignment, the Dougherty County Board of Education voted to allow seniors to choose the high school they’d spend their final year between Westover, Monroe and Dougherty.

DCSS officials sent the names of the students who selected their option by June 23 to the GHSA with a letter requesting that they be allowed to maintain their eligibility under current GHSA by-laws and interpretations of those by-laws.

“While we are deeply disappointed that the committee voted to deny our senior student-athletes who, through circumstances beyond the control of their families and their school, the opportunity to play at the school of their choice their final year, we’re committed to working with our students to make sure they have all the tools and resources they need to be successful,” DCSS Superintendent Kenneth Dyer said in the release.

Seniors impacted by the decision can appeal to the board, but a meeting of that body likely won't happen before school starts on Aug. 1 according to DCSS officials. If the seniors enroll at a school other than their zoned school and the appeal is denied, they would be deemed migrant students, and thereby unable to compete varsity athletics for 365 days. Seniors can enroll at their new zoned school and participate in athletics with no penalty.

Dougherty County School System Athletics Director Lea Henry said that the decision was a disappointment but that the system is committed to working with students and the GHSA to make sure they have every opportunity available.

“The system put forth a compelling case as to why we felt that the students should be able to maintain their eligibility but the committee felt differently,” Henry said. “We’ll continue to work with all of our student-athletes and their parents to the best of our ability to provide them with every opportunity to compete.”

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