The Illinois High School Association announced on Wednesday, March 8, sanctions against the Maine South football program for reportedly using out-of-district players during its 2022 season.
The Hawks finished the regular season 7-2 with an undefeated record (5-0) in the Central Suburban League South before winning two playoff games. All nine of the Hawks’ wins are vacated, according to the IHSA.
After “recently” receiving a tip, the IHSA initiated an investigation into ineligible players on Maine South with the cooperation of the high school and Maine Township District 207, according to IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson in a news release.
“The IHSA recently received credible information that Maine South football players who did not reside in the district participated on the team during the 2022 IHSA football season,” Anderson said in the IHSA release. “District 207 and Maine South High School personnel promptly conducted a meticulous internal investigation, in conjunction with the IHSA, after being informed of these allegations. After a thorough review, they self-reported violations of the IHSA residence by-laws by multiple student-athletes on its 2022 football roster.”
A statement from Maine Township D207 implied that this is not the district’s first run-in with residency concerns. Superintendent Dr. Ken Wallace said in the statement, “Because of our location and the quality of our schools, we have always had instances of families trying to send students to our schools without establishing legal residency.”
Neither the release from D207 nor the IHSA identifies how many or which football players violated the by-laws. They also do not indicate if any member of the district or football program was previously aware of the violations.
Maine D207’s statement says the program is accepting the IHSA penalties after it found the residency violations during its internal investigation.
“We fully support the IHSA and accept the sanctions,” Wallace said in the D207 statement. “Along with Maine South football coach David Inserra, we will work diligently to ensure this never happens again. Coach Inserra is a dedicated educator and coach, and we know that he will work tirelessly with us to eliminate this issue.
“We need to follow the rules and regulations set forth by the IHSA, as well as the law in Illinois related to school residency. In this situation, I am most disappointed for the student-athletes on the 2022 Maine South football team who will bear the brunt of these penalties.”
Maine South topped visiting New Trier 28-21 in overtime in the final week of the regular season on Oct. 21, 2022. The Trevians, at 4-4 prior to the game, needed the victory to qualify for the postseason. Instead, their season ended at the final buzzer.
The Hawks also bested Barrington and Bolingbrook in the playoffs, and Evanston, Glenbrook South, Niles West, South Elgin and Stevenson during the regular season.
The IHSA also placed Maine South on probation for one season and “have been formally notified that future violations may result in removal from the IHSA State Football Playoffs.”
“The IHSA’s by-laws are the foundation of the association and its ability to follow its mission of providing equitable participation,” Anderson said in the release. “With more than 800 member schools, we depend on our schools to adhere to these rules and to work with the IHSA in instances where violations may have occurred.
“I commend Maine Township High School District 207 and Maine South High School personnel for recognizing the serious nature of these allegations and their diligence in investigating and reporting these violations. I believe that District 207 has already begun to take appropriate steps to prevent future issues like this from occurring again and will aid them in any way that I can in that process.”
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