Bellevue University plans to appeal the NAIA decision that the Bruins must forfeit their baseball season, Athletic Director Ed Lehotak said Monday.
The NAIA announced the penalty last week after Bellevue reported it had used an ineligible player.
Appeals may be made only if there is new information. Lehotak said that when the school self-reported that player Jon Reed didn't have a release from Sam Houston State, officials thought he was eligible anyway because he'd met the 16-week residency requirement.
Lehotak has since learned that Reed began classes Nov. 30, the start of the second term, and not Aug. 31.
“We've made a formal request to have them look at it again," he said.
Marcus Manning, director of membership services for the NAIA, said he is not allowed to comment on a specific school. However, he said any school that uses an ineligible player must forfeit any games won with that player in the lineup. There are no exceptions, he said.
Bellevue plans to appeal as fast as possible in hopes of getting a reversal that would allow the Bruins to compete in the national tournament, which starts next week.
Manning said the NAIA doesn't guarantee a time frame for a response.
“The sooner we receive the appeal,” he said, “the more the likelihood of a decision being rendered as quickly as possible."
Lehotak said the Bruins have one other chance of competing at nationals: If the 23-person committee that compiles the NAIA ratings votes them into the Top 25. The final ratings will come out Tuesday afternoon.
“We are not banned from postseason play," he said. “If we can get enough votes from raters, we can still get in as an at-large team."
Sam Houston State coach Mark Johnson said Monday that he felt bad about the outcome, but that his school never received a formal request for Reed's release. Bellevue coach Mike Evans had said Bellevue officials lost the release.
“I've never held up a release to anybody," Johnson said. “I told Jon and his parents we'd release him. He was a good player for us.
“We had all intentions of allowing him to transfer and everybody knew it, but you still have to do the paperwork."
Lehotak said the coaching staff is responsible for asking for the release, but he said the lack of one should have been caught by school administrators. He said they are reviewing their procedures to make sure it doesn't happen again.
“We have a series of checkpoints to verify the release is here," he said, “and somehow it got missed."
Lehotak held a meeting with the team Monday to explain why Bellevue reported the infraction to the NAIA.
“That's what institutions with integrity do," Lehotak said.
This is the second time that Bellevue has had to forfeit games because of an eligibility problem. When asked if Evans' job was in jeopardy as a result, Lehotak said:
“We're trying to support Mike Evans in everything he does. Hopefully we'll get these things straightened out so we don't have any future occurrences like this."
Contact the writer: