Rock Hill has forfeited its first three football games of the 2010 season after a player was ruled ineligible, principal Judy Mobley said.
Mobley met with the team and coaches Thursday afternoon to break the news that wins over Greer, Nation Ford and York had been forfeited. The ineligible player appeared in the first four games of the season, but the fourth was a loss to South Pointe.
Rock Hill also must pay a $1,200 fine -- $300 for each game the student played -- to the S.C. High School League, which levied the penalities.
Mobley said meeting with the coaches and team Thursday was one of the hardest things she's had to do in her career.
She would not identify the player, saying he had left the school and moved out of the Rock Hill district.
"His name is a matter of confidentiality,'' she said. "The problem was that he wasn't checked out thoroughly and we made a mistake by not doing so. I have been dealing with this situation all week; talking with the South Carolina High School League. A program has been implemented to prevent similar mistakes in the future.
"Our coaches didn't make this mistake. We have a good program and we don't recruit players. It came down to a matter of the young man making an illegal change of residence.''
Rock Hill, which plays at Gaffney tonight at 7:30, now has a 2-5 record. The Bearcats lost their Region 3, AAAA opener last week to Lancaster.
"I'm deeply sorry about this,'' Mobley said. "It's our right to appeal any decision handed down by the league. But we chose not to do that. It's best that we put this behind us, make sure it doesn't happen again, and move on.''
Football coach Joe Montgomery agreed with the decision. Still, as far as he and his team are concerned, they still are 5-2 on the field.
"We control our own destiny,'' he said. "Gaffney will be our second game in region play, and you have to win your region games to make the playoffs.''
-- Barry Byers, Rock Hill Herald