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No. 6 South forfeits two games

South Medford’s sixth-ranked football team has forfeited its first two games of this season and quite likely will face a standard $100 fine from the Oregon School Activities Association after self-reporting use of an academically ineligible player in those games on Tuesday.

According to first-year South Medford Athletic Director Tim Rupp, the violation had to do with an “administrative oversight” that was first discovered Monday.

“We obviously have routines and procedures in place for checking academic eligibility for our athletes,” Rupp said Wednesday afternoon. “This happened to be a unique situation where a couple conversations were had and some misunderstandings took place until a transcript finally showed up on my desk.”

After delving further into the issue on limited time — Medford School District has made athletic director positions part time at South and North Medford high schools this year — Rupp contacted the OSAA on Tuesday morning to advise it he had uncovered a violation. The OSAA took the immediate action to post South Medford’s first two games as forfeits — the Panthers had beaten Wilsonville 73-34 in Week 1 and lost to West Linn 42-21 last week — but does not convene as an Executive Board again until December, when Rupp said the school is also likely to face financial repercussions.

“We can file for a hardship, which we’re in the process of doing at this point in time,” Rupp said of any appeals process. “I don’t believe it will change the past, just maybe change the future.”

The player in question will not be available to play this season unless the hardship is granted. Rupp said to this point, the OSAA has been “very supportive” and was appreciative in the school self-reporting the issue in a show of integrity.

“It’s hard, obviously our time in the athletic office right now is pretty limited so to have something like this happen right off the bat is pretty unfortunate,” added Rupp. “In a cup half-full sense, I’m glad we discovered this now and not three or four weeks into our conference schedule. That would’ve been 100 times worse than at least figuring it out now and only having it affect our nonleague games.”

South Medford, now with an 0-2 record, is set to open Southwest Conference play at Willamette on Friday.

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, khenry@mailtribune.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry