Amherst HS Basketball Team Has Ineligible Player, Not Penalized
Back in October 2022, officials from the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) Section VI board ruled that the Bennett High School Football Team in Buffalo used a player who was not eligible to play due to not completing the necessary paperwork to transfer from the Sweet Home School District to the Buffalo Public School District.
Since the Bennett Tigers used an ineligible player in several games, the team was penalized and forced to forfeit 6 games.
Now it appears that the Amherst Central High School Basketball Team allowed a student to play this season who was also not eligible to due to rules surrounding school district residency, however, the Amherst Tigers were not forced to forfeit any games by NYSPHSAA Section VI.
This has officials from the City of Buffalo calling foul.
In a press conference held on Tuesday, March 7, 2023, officials from the Buffalo Public Schools called on officials from Section VI, the NYSPHSAA, and New York State Education Department to stop treating city schools unfairly when compared to suburban schools.
They also filed an official complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights claiming discriminatory and disparate treatment towards student-athletes who attend Buffalo schools, while also allowing inconsistent enforcement of the rules.
BPS officials claim that the student who played Basketball for Amherst Central was a key figure in many of their victories, and if the Bennett team was forced to forfeit games, why were the same penalties not applied against the Amherst Central team? It appears that Amherst central was not given any penalty by Section VI at all.
In my opinion, it is time to bring the U.S. Attorney General in to evaluate what is going on with our children and athletes. We understand that sports is a gateway out of poverty and to success, and for whatever reason, whatever barriers that are there, we are about removing them... Our message to our students is that we’re not going to take it, we’re going to fight back.
-Sharon Belton-Cottman, President of the Buffalo Public Schools Board
If the Amherst Central Basketball team, who won the Section VI Class A Championship this week, had the same penalties applied against it as Bennett High School, they likely would not have been able to advance to win the championship. BPS officials have further called on Amherst Central to forfeit its title and allow Williamsville South, the last team Amherst beat in the HS basketball playoffs, to take their place in the championship game.
We’re not looking for one simple change in an athletic contest tonight... We’re looking for broad, sweeping change on how athletics and athletic contests are governed in the state of New York. Enough is enough.
-Nate Kuzma, General Legal Counsel for the Buffalo Public Schools