CHICAGO (CBS) — Days after Chicago Public Schools cross-country runners competed in this weekend’s Illinois state sectionals, the Illinois High School Association has filed an appeal – challenging a judge’s earlier ruling that allowed them to participate.
As CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar reported, an advocate for the CPS runners interprets the motion as a move essentially to disqualify them.
During a teachers’ strike, the IHSA requires schools to participate in regionals in order to advance in the state tournament.
But with the CPS teachers on strike for 11 days last month, the kids couldn’t run. That disqualified them from the postseason and putting some college dreams on hold.
But just hours before the regional tournament, a judge allowed several schools to run.
Jones College Prep and others argued that they should have been allowed to run despite the IHSA rules. The judge agreed.
Judge Neil Cohen said he was “tired of adults robbing kids of their childhood.” He noted that CPS football teams had obtained an exception from the IHSA to compete during the strike, and said it was unfair that the same exception did not apply to other sports.
The sectionals were held on Saturday, and Stephen Tyng Mather High School and 11 individual CPS runners advanced to the upcoming state meet. But now, the kids will be back in court.
On Monday, the IHSA, which oversees high school athletics for the state, is looking to appeal the judge’s decision. It filed a notice of interlocutory appeal with the Illinois Appellate Court late Monday.
In a statement Tuesday morning, the IHSA said the goal of its appeal is not to remove the CPS runners from the playoffs, but is instead seeking to avoid what it fears is a “dangerous legal precedent” allowing teams to circumvent playoff rules.
“We believe this ruling creates a dangerous legal precedent that hampers our ability to uphold the rules put into place by our member schools, and has far-reaching implications that impact the finality and integrity of any IHSA event,” IHSA executive director Craig Anderson said.
However, IHSA acknowledged removing the CPS runners from the state finals is a possible outcome of their appeal.
An advocate for the student athletes dumbfounded when he received the filing.
“Can you imagine just being a student athlete – you know, you raced on Saturday, you got through the emotional roller coaster, and here you are on Monday, you know, going on Tuesday, not sure if you’re going to be able to race this weekend because the IHSA has put in an appeal,” said high school athlete advocate Joe Trost. “If this goes through, it’s going to hold the kids back, and you talk about crushed dreams.”
CBS 2 reached out to the IHSA late Monday to try to get some clarification or understanding on why they would file the appeal. But we have not heard back.
The motion will be heard sometime this week. A date has not been set.