What if the Minnesota State High School League held a boys sectional championship and no one advanced to the state tournament?
Prairie Seeds Academy of Brooklyn Park beat Totino-Grace High School of Fridley by a score of 2-1 on Oct. 18 at Maple Grove Senior High. But the MSHSL disqualified Prairie Seeds after its investigation of post-game fighting turned up a player the league said was ineligible.
Prairie Seeds unsuccessfully sought a court injunction that would have let them play on. Totino-Grace asked why its team wasn't allowed to take Prairie Seeds' place. In the end, neither team faced Duluth Marshall in a first-round tournament game set for Friday at Roseville Area High School.
In the wake of the very rare state-tournament disqualification—the first since 1961, according to the Star Tribune—both schools posted statements on their websites giving their views. (See PDF for MSHSL statement. See YouTube for Channel 12 Northwest Community Television.)
Prairie Seeds' statement:
Prairie Seeds Academy coaching staff and school administration take student athlete eligibility requirements very seriously and have always followed MSHSL procedures and protocols. This case was no exception. PSA was surprised and greatly disappointed by MSHSL’s decision to disqualify the boys' varsity soccer team from playing in the 2012 State Tournament before due process was properly completed by MSHSL
Prairie Seeds Academy was hopeful that their resolution efforts would allow for participation in the State Tournament game yesterday. Unfortunately, that was not the case and PSA is very disappointed that the hearing did not result in favorable results. PSA student athletes have worked very hard, overcoming several obstacles throughout the season and earned their entrance into the State Tournament. This is a very unfortunate situation and although PSA fully supported the disciplinary action MSHSL took toward the students involved in last week's altercation, we continue to disagree with their decision to disqualify the school. We stand firmly behind our school, our students, our academic philosophy, and our athletic programs.
Totino-Grace High School appreciates the patience and understanding of our community while waiting for the results of the Minnesota State High School League’s investigation of the altercation following the Section 5A championship soccer match between the Eagles and Prairie Seeds Academy.
During this time, school administrators worked closely with all members of the boys’ soccer team to address questions and concerns related to the incident. Our school emphasizes the safety of the students in our care as one of our top priorities. Totino-Grace echoes the sentiments from the Minnesota State High School League, “Such behavior is not condoned and should never be a part of any high school game or school activity.” As a community, we do not condone any violence or violent act or any circumstances that would instigate or perpetuate violence.
We were surprised to learn that acting to stop the fight is a sanctioned penalty. We are disappointed but we respect the Minnesota State High School League.
At Totino-Grace we embrace a community that is academically, economically and culturally diverse. It is unfortunate that initial media reports included unsupported allegations that members of the Totino-Grace team made derogatory remarks during the section championship game. Neither the Minnesota State High School League, nor the opposing team, has provided Totino-Grace with evidence to support these accusations. We stand by our students and dispute any allegations of this nature.
In response, Totino-Grace addressed the student body to revisit sportsmanship standards and the expectations we have for our community, emphasizing respect for game officials, players and fans of opposing schools, and Totino-Grace athletes. We will continue to strive for excellence both on and off the playing field and we will rely on our staff, students, coaches, parents and fans to model behavior that supports our mission and values.
We are disappointed that the Minnesota State High School League has determined that our team will not be permitted to replace the disqualified team and respectfully disagree with their decision.
We continue to be proud of all of our students and look forward to the opportunity to learn and grow from the experiences we face as students, teachers, parents and members of the Totino-Grace community.