Fiasco at Windham could cost JFK its season

John F. Kennedy could be facing further punishment after walking off of the court Tuesday night in a game at Windham High School.

Currently, the Ohio High School Athletic Association is investigating the events and the conclusion of the game, which ended with the John F. Kennedy players and coaches leaving the court with 3:51 remaining in the fourth quarter. Windham was winning, 88-49.

“This is a unique situation when a whole team walks off,” said Tim Stried, OHSAA Director of Information Services. “Currently, we are working with the officials and looking at their report and trying to tie up some loose ends before a decision is made.”

Calls to John F. Kennedy athletic director John Gillen and coach Shawn Pompelia were not returned on Thursday.

The events leading up to the walk-off had been building the entire night between the John F. Kennedy coaches and the three-man officiating crew. John F. Kennedy head coach Shawn Pompelia, who was at the game on the bench, was ill and turned the head coaching responsibilities to assistant Marlon McGaughy. Early on, McGaughy was whistled for a technical foul, as was Pompelia. Later in the game, senior Dominic Naples was called for a technical. Pompelia received his second technical in the fourth quarter. He argued that he was never called for a technical a first time, claiming the official who made the first call heard a fan yelling from the stands. Because it was his second technical foul, Pompelia was ejected from the game.

The final technical foul came in the fourth quarter after a sequence in which technical fouls were called on both a JFK and a Windham player. A brief shoving match preceded the technicals, after which order was restored.

However, after the double technicals were called, McGaughy called the team to the bench and then instructed them into the locker room. After the game, McGaughy cited player safety, saying, “It wasn’t more or less about the game. I don’t want to be disrespectful to any school, but it was just that the fans started to throw stuff at my players and were talking to my players. I’m not going to have that, so I decided to get them off for safety reasons.”

Though that was the reason McGaughy stated after the game, Windham principal Michael Chaffee was confident in saying his fans were not throwing anything and were in control.

“I pursued that (on Wednesday) just to make sure that what happened or what didn’t happen, didn’t happen,” Chaffee said. “I did make many inquiries to people that were standing or sitting near where it was said to have happened, they confirmed to me that it didn’t.”

No matter what did or didn’t happen, the Eagles exited the court, and though they tried to return a few minutes later, the officials had already called the game and left the court.

Because of the exit, the OHSAA is looking over different rules on whether or not further punishment should be issued. Stried said the rule being cited is General Sports Regulation No. 14 saying, “No member of any school-sponsored interscholastic athletics squad shall leave the ‘playing area’ in which a contest is being conducted and enter the ‘spectator area’ of the facility to engage in any type of conflict – verbal or physical.”

The rules goes on to say that if a student-athlete leaves the ‘playing area’ and enters the ‘spectator area’ of a facility to so engage a person, the minimum penalties shall be that the student-athlete’s privileges to participate in interscholastic athletics shall be revoked and the student-athlete shall be ineligible for the remainder of the school year; and the school shall be immediately placed on probation pending an investigation (and report) into what happened, what caused it to happen, what was done by the school to diffuse what happened and what ‘safeguards’ have been implemented by the school to prevent future happenings.

Stried admits this rule is meant for an individual player, and that the situation is unique. He expected to have more information, and even a ruling, today.

“A final decision, at this time, has not been made,” Stried said. “We are reviewing the information we have received. Things need to be clarified before we can reach a final decision.”