TABOR CITY, NC (WWAY) — South Columbus High head football coach Jake Fonvielle sent WWAY a lengthy response Monday regarding his opinion on how the North Carolina High School Athletic Association handled the recent player eligibility ruling last week. The NCHSAA ruled in favor of Southern Vance over South Columbus. We’ve posted Fonvielle’s statement below.
Right OR Wrong
Following a week of very few ups and an abundance of major downs, I, Jake Fonvielle, Head Football Coach and Athletic Director at South Columbus High School, feel compelled and obligated to issue a written statement concerning the issues and decisions made by the NCHSAA that took place between November 16, 2013 thru November 22, 2013.
To start with, I would like to thank several people for their hard work, persistence, and steadfast involvement and commitment to this issue concerning the NCHSAA (North Carolina High School Athletic Association) and their rules implementation or lack there of. I would like to first thank my wife, Jenny, for having patience with me through this process and consistently reminding me that what I was doing was right not only for South Columbus Football but for every athletic program in the state of North Carolina. Next I would like to thank, Mr. Eddie Beck, Principal at South Columbus High School, along with the entire faculty and staff for their complete support. To, Mr. Alan Faulk, Dr. Jonathon Williams, Mr. Worley Edwards, Central Office Staff and the entire Columbus County Board of Education, and Bill Phipps, Board Attorney, thank you for your complete and thorough involvement with this issue from the beginning to the end. Also, a special thanks goes out to every Principal, Coach, Athletic Director, Referee, Official, and all persons that contacted me through out the week to remind me and inform me that what I was doing was the right thing and to see it through to the end because this issue affects everyone at every level of involvement in North Carolina High School Athletics. Again, thank you for your support and involvement through this process.
As you can see in my heading, between the two words (right, wrong), there is the word
OR. I make reference to this for the simple fact that OR means one or the other not both because they are not directly related at all. We almost always use them together when generally speaking but in reality they are nothing alike. The word AND would relate the two or mean they belong together, and they definitely do not. My reason for acknowledging this is to make everyone on the outside looking in, aware that this was the Major reason and concern for SCHS and Columbus County Schools Appeal of the NCHSAA ruling on the use of ineligible players. Throughout the week, I have heard many arguments through social media concerning people’s thoughts on our reasons. Examples: Poor losers, accept what you got, if you had won this would not have been and issue, etc. To make things clear for everyone, this issue is much bigger than winning or losing an athletic event.
This issue is about Ethics, Morals, Written Rules, Rules Interpretation, Rules Implementation, Following the Rules, Accountability of School systems and their respective athletic departments, Accountability of the NCHSAA and its employees, Accountability of the Executive Committee and Board of Directors for the NCHSAA. Our goal in this issue at SCHS and CCS was to stand up for what was right, not to change a loss to a win, but to let the NCHSAA know that we would not sit back and let them break their own rules that they have set forth and are responsible for enforcing.
The NCHSAA preaches following the rules, accountability, following protocols, professionalism, and doing the right thing. The NCHSAA demands this from its Superintendents, Principals, Athletic Directors, and Coaches. We sit in rules meetings year after year, and season after season and the number one reason why, because they make it mandatory. If Head coaches do not attend, it is a $400 fine for the school in violation. The main topics in every one of these meetings are eligibility, sportsmanship, and ejections, and the penalties for all of these oversights. They want us to read the fine print, keep perfect paperwork, and ask questions if we are unsure in any situation. If a mistake or decision is made by a school official to ignore or break a rule that is in place and written in the rule book, then it is UNACCEPTABLE in the NCHSAA’s eyes. They normally hold us to the highest accountability, even higher than the standards the NCHSAA holds themselves, Except for some special situations. You know, there are always those exceptions that only certain accepted ones (Favorites) receive. Why? Most of the time we will never know, but it is these issues that cause the most problems, because written rules do not allow for exceptions. It is cut and dry, it is in black and white except for those every now and again special exceptions.
The rules in this situation were in place and covered every scenario that could possibly happen to keep these situations from happening, and if it did happen there would be consequences that would follow for breaking the rule and not following protocol. I am not going to write the rule book in this statement. It can be found on-line and for those interested, the majority of this issue is covered from pages 135-146 in the NCHSAA Hand book. Also, the FAQs section on the home page of the NCHSAA. Website: nchsaa.org
The main purpose of this statement and the appeals that SCHS made is to hopefully make Superintendents, Board of Educations, Principals, Athletic Directors, and Coaches aware of our responsibilities. The NCHSAA is the governing body over our athletic programs in the state of North Carolina. They have the power to fine schools for not following rules, procedures, deadlines, and ejections. They hold coaches SO accountable for their programs, in that if a kid on his/her team gets ejected for fighting, the coach must take a class and pay a fine. That is how accountable they hold us in almost every situation. They finance their association and pay their salaries with money we send them through endowment games, playoff games, membership dues, and fines that they hand down. So, Superintendents, Principals, Athletic Directors, Coaches, and All Board of Education members, it seems to me that the NCHSAA works for us. We pay their salaries and we provide them with the money to operate. So if the NCHSAA is our governing body over athletics in North Carolina, then we have to ask, “Who is their governing body?” I would have to say all of the above, every school system in North Carolina!
Now with that being said, I have to speak to the fact that through the appeal process there were a few important details that really shocked me. We had an appeal meeting with the executive committee of the NCHSAA on Nov 20, and those names are listed in the hand book as well. This committee is made up of Superintendents, Principals and Athletic Directors currently employed in North Carolina. This group is in charge of their respective school systems, schools, and athletic programs. As I mentioned earlier, these people would be part of the governing body to keep the NCHSAA in check. This group failed to put the NCHSAA back in line for not enforcing one of its own rules.
On November 21, 2013, another appeal was heard by the entire board of directors which also includes the executive committee. The meeting started with sixteen of these officials present, but 3 had to leave before completion of the meeting due to schedule conflicts. Thirteen people voted on this issue, and the outcome was an 8 to 5 vote in favor of the NCHSAA. After the NCHSAA clearly violated their own rules set forth, members of the governing body over the NCHSAA had two separate chances to put them back in their place and failed. This is not acceptable. We as educators and school officials cannot let this happen. It is our job to stand up for what is right, not allow it to be brushed under the rug. We are better than this, and I hope even more ethical and moral than this. It is our job and obligation to follow the rules. We deal with young people everyday, so what are we teaching them when adults make these kinds of decisions, I would say mistakes, but this was no mistake; this was a decision and a very bad one, not only by the NCHSAA, but the governing board that allowed it to stand. Many bad decisions were made starting with the offending school that chose to do the wrong thing, followed by a bad decision by the NCHSAA, followed by a another bad decision by the Executive committee, followed by another by the Board of Directors. All are adults, all highly educated, and all in very important leadership roles. I appreciate the 5 of you that voted against the NCHSAA ruling, you know who you are, and your morals and ethics are not in question. You did the right thing, your efforts are commendable.
In closing, I would like to quote something Ms. Everlene Davis; a current teacher at SCHS with 58 years of service, told me after this situation finally came to an end. She said, “There are those times and situations when a person or group is completely and 100% right, BUT it still doesn’t go your way, and God has a reason and a plan for this.” Thank you Ms. Davis, you have been and continue to be a very special person in my life! Finally, I would just like to remind our school systems around the state of North Carolina that we are the governing body of the NCHSAA. It is our job to make sure the NCHSAA performs at the level that we expect them to. In the future, when events like this occur, it is our duty as Superintendents, School Boards, Principals, Athletic Directors and Coaches to work together as a whole to make sure these types of bad decisions and broken rules are not allowed and not accepted. We are responsible for making sure that the NCHSAA follows the rules they set forth and enforces them, and when they do not, they will be held accountable for their actions. You simply cannot make up the rules as you go. If this is allowed to happen, many other innocent programs and young people will be negatively affected by these irresponsible decisions by the NCHSAA. Do not forget why we do what we do. It is all about the Students and Student-Athletes and preparing them and instilling in them the skills, work ethic, positive mental attitude, morals and ethics to be productive leaders in our society. When did doing the right thing become so hard for people to do? Why is this country in the shape that it is in? Why do people sit back and continue to let bad decisions by upper level adults go unpunished? Amazingly, each one of these questions answers the other. Nothing will ever be more important than doing the Right thing, the moral thing, and the ethical thing. Also, no one is saying we all will not make the wrong decisions or mistakes at some point, but when we do and we have the opportunity to make the wrong, right, then make it right! That is a true test of character. We owe that to everyone we come in contact with. Remember, this is all 0part of God’s plan, and God’s plan also forgives, and His plan is the Only Plan!
South Columbus High School
AD and Head Football Coach