Madison (OnFocus) – Madison Edgewood High School and one of its student-athletes has sued the WIAA over the WIAA’s finding Monday that Edgewood had an ineligible player on the team during the football season and must forfeit all 11 wins this season and won’t be allowed to compete in this weekend’s state quarterfinal against Columbus.
Edgewood is demanding that wide receiver Cameron Fane be reinstated by the WIAA and that the court find that Edgewood did not play the season with an ineligible player, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in Dane County Circuit Court along with an emergency motion for a temporary restraining order.
Edgewood filed an appeal of the WIAA’s initial decision with the WIAA, but the WIAA denied the appeal Thursday morning.
“We recognize that this is an unfortunate situation for all involved, and we share in everyone’s disappointment with the circumstances; however, the WIAA has the responsibility to uphold the integrity of the rules of education-based athletics as established by the member schools,” the WIAA said in a statement denying Edgewood’s appeal. “In matters like this, it is important to note that all schools are afforded due process to ensure the member rules are being applied as written.”
After Thursday’s WIAA appeal was denied, Edgewood issued a statement addressing the corresponding lawsuit.
“We want to make it clear that this dispute is purely administrative, and in no way represents an error on Cam’s part,” the statement said. “We are immensely proud not only of how Cam has handled himself during this very difficult situation, but of all the hard work he has done and the commitment he has made to Edgewood, his teammates and the entire school community. Cam is an asset to our community, and we are blessed to have him.”
Fane has not recorded any receiving stats in either of Edgewood’s two postseason wins after posting 39 receptions for 662 yards and nine touchdowns through nine regular-season games. He also ran 25 times for 279 yards and four TDs.
Kewaskum, which lost to Edgewood in the second round of the state playoffs last week, is now scheduled to play Columbus in Saturday’s state quarterfinals barring a reversal by the court.
The judge presiding over the case agreed to hold a hearing at 9:30 a.m. Friday.
The lawsuit also demands a court ruling that Edgewood would have won the games it played this season even without Fane’s participation and that Edgewood may continue to compete in the WIAA football playoffs.
“(Edgewood) will be irreparably harmed if WIAA’s decision is allowed to stand,” the lawsuit says. “Edgewood, its players, its students and its community cannot get this football season back. Edgewood has won all of its games and deserves the thrill of a state title run and the opportunity to win a championship. If plaintiffs are denied the opportunity for this team to play in this year’s playoffs, the opportunity cannot be returned.”
The school and its students already have been harmed, the lawsuit says, because they “have been excoriated on social media as cheaters and rule-breakers.”
That’s unfair, the lawsuit asserts, because Edgewood didn’t seek an unfair advantage, lie or hide facts from the WIAA.
“Yet WIAA’s statement that Edgewood must forfeit victories because it used an allegedly ineligible player wrongly and falsely implies that Edgewood did one or more of those things,” the lawsuit says.
The WIAA, in a response filed in court Thursday, said Edgewood sought and received one type of eligibility waiver for Fane earlier this year, but did not seek the type of waiver that would have extended the length of Fane’s eligibility for high school athletics beyond four years, which the WIAA said had expired. The WIAA accused Edgewood of attempting to mislead the WIAA when it sought a waiver of transfer rules for Fane, instead of one that would have extended his athletics eligibility.
“Edgewood has unclean hands, and actions have consequences,” the WIAA’s response says. “WIAA rules and equity require that the student-athletes that Edgewood displaced by using an ineligible player be restored to tournament play in their place.”
The response also states: “While Edgewood’s season is at an unfortunate end, its team cannot be allowed to benefit from the conduct of those who chose to conceal the true nature of Mr. Fane’s waiver request and to play him against their opponents when they knew he was ineligible.”
In March, according to Edgewood’s lawsuit, Edgewood was granted residence and transfer requirement waivers from the WIAA on behalf of Fane by Wade Labecki, who at the time was deputy director of the WIAA.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
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