The Brainerd High School boys' soccer team learned Monday that, like the Warrior girls' soccer program days earlier, it has suffered a similar fate.
Brainerd activities director Todd Selk said the Minnesota State High School League ruled Monday that Brainerd must forfeit six of its boys' victories and a tie for using an ineligible player.
On Friday, the girls' soccer team discovered it must forfeit its first 11 games (10 wins, one tie) for using an ineligible player who had transferred from another state.
The boys' team must forfeit because it permitted a student from a foreign exchange program not sanctioned by the MSHSL to compete.
The program in question is called the Minnesota Baden-Wurttenberg Student Exchange. Selk said Wurttenberg is a sister state to Minnesota. He said the player is from Wurttenberg and is in the program.
"Therefore he's not eligible for varsity competition, only junior varsity competition, but again we should have known," Selk said.
He said in a few cases foreign exchange programs may be used as recruiting tools by other school districts. He said in that case a school district knows which student it's going to get. Selk emphasized that is not the case in Brainerd's situation.
Selk said this program is not completely "a blind placement." He said approved programs are "completely blind."
"Minnesota has a relationship with a state in Germany," he said. "Because of that specific per se, this doesn't come under the broad act of blind placement.
"We don't go to this town to get soccer players. We don't know what town they're coming from in Germany. The kids in this program don't know what town they're going to in Minnesota, but because it's actually Wurttenberg to Minnesota, instead of anywhere in the U.S., that specifically does not qualify as an approved program.
"It's a technicality again, but nonetheless it's one we should have been aware of."
The boys' record entering Monday's game at Little Falls was 1-12-1, instead of 7-5-2. Brainerd will open Section 8, Class 2A play Saturday.
Both teams received positive news Monday, learning both have been seeded for what they accomplished on the field. The girls have been seeded second, the boys sixth.
Warrior boys' coach Cahil Collins said the forfeit situation is "definitely disappointing for the boys," who were informed Friday such a ruling could be made.
"The boys came back and played a tough game Saturday (a 2-1 win over Bemidji), which attests to the kind of kids they actually are," Collins said. "It's disappointing, but the kids know they're better than what their record shows, and they will go into section play with that attitude."
The boys showed character Saturday, he said. "I was quite proud of them."
Brainerd Superintendent Jerry Walseth said the girls' soccer team has handled the situation well and has united as a result of the ordeal.
"I think they're going to be a more well-bonded group," said Walseth.
Walseth said a meeting is planned Tuesday morning between school administrators, the boys' soccer team players and coaches. Walseth said he's received no complaints against district staff or Selk about the incident. On the contrary, Walseth said he's received many positive comments from adults in the community on how the situation was handled by district staff when it was learned both teams had ineligible players.
"People have said, 'That's the modeling we need to do for kids,'" said Walseth.
Bernie Roberts, Brainerd School Board chair, said since the forfeitures don't affect seeding for either team, he believes the MSHSL was attempting to strike a balance by applying its own rules yet also taking into account the district notified the league immediately when the errors were discovered.
"It's unfortunate it affects the players and the teams' records," said Roberts. "My sense is the state high school league tried to do the right thing. If there were no consequences to us, there would be no merit to the rule, anyway."
(Staff Writer Jodie Tweed contributed to this story.)
Mike Bialka can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5861.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.