LINCOLN — The Nebraska School Activities Association board on Wednesday voted 7-0 to deny Omaha Burke’s appeal regarding use of an ineligible player in boys basketball.
The Bulldogs forfeited their first five wins of the season, with their record changing from 16-7 to 11-12.
Devin Thomas, a junior who transferred last fall from Millard West, played in those wins. Through a clerical mistake, the Omaha Public Schools student placement office erroneously told Burke administrators Thomas moved into the school’s attendance zone with his parents — but it’s an aunt he’s been living with in OPS.
The parents still reside in Millard and his siblings attend Millard schools. Without the family moving, Thomas must sit out 90 school days to be eligible for varsity competition.
Burke coach Kevin Kobs acknowledged that it wasn’t three wins in which Thomas played, it was five. Those were against Omaha North, Omaha Central, Central again, Omaha South and Bellevue East.
Counting a loss to Omaha Creighton Prep, Thomas, a 6-foot-2 guard, averaged 1.3 points and 1.0 rebounds in what Kobs said was 24 minutes of playing time over six games.
Subsequently, Thomas played only junior varsity games because of academic issues. Burke’s athletic director, Jason Williams, said the school became aware of the improper transfer only in the past 10 days.
Also at the 45-minute hearing were first-year Burke principal Gaye Lannan, OPS student placement administrator Patrick Pope and the Burke varsity players.
Pope said the address of Thomas’ aunt was entered into OPS records as the parents’ address. “There was no way for Burke to know it was incorrect,’’ he said.
Kobs said the players shouldn’t be penalized “for a technicality issue.”
After it beat Millard South on Tuesday night, Burke was fifth in the Class A point standings. With the forfeits, it now is 16th.
Because the forfeits also dropped Burke from the second to the third division in the point system, all its opponents receive fewer points. And the teams that received the forfeits each get a boost of eight points currently. It’s 16 points for Central because it played the Bulldogs twice, and that moves the Eagles — whose record changes from 19-4 to 21-2 — past Omaha Creighton Prep and Lincoln East to first in the point standings.
The NSAA board also voted 8-0 to reject an appeal to waive the NSAA age limit for North Platte senior track runners Pan and Pon Dishman. Those who turn 19 before Aug. 1 of their senior year are ineligible. The Dishman twins’ birthday is July 25.