19-year-old allowed to play football for Struthers
A Struthers High School senior has settled his lawsuit against the Ohio High School Athletic Association aimed at allowing him to continue playing football for the Wildcats. He can play this fall, but with some restrictions.
Mahoning County Common Pleas Judge R. Scott Krichbaum issued an injunction on Monday regarding the case of Luke Witkowski, who sued the OHSAA, which said said the 19-year-old was ineligible to play this coming season.
OHSAA rules forbid high school students (grades 9-12) who turn 19 years of age prior to August 1, 2014, from taking part in interscholastic athletics.
Witkowski's attorney argued that the OHSAA should have made an exception for Witkowski because the teen’s family came to the United States from Poland when he was 6-years-old and was held back in third grade due to the language and assimilation challenges.
On Monday, the parties involved in the dispute came to an agreement to settle the case.
Judge Krichbaum issued an order outlining several specific conditions under which Witkowski can play this season.
Witkowski cannot take part in pre-season scrimmages
Witkowski cannot take part in first two regular season games (Campbell and Lakeview)
Beginning with Struthers' week three game on September 12, 2014, Witkowski will be eligible to participate fully in all football-related activities for the remainder of the 2014 football season. This includes all regular, post-season, playoff, championship and all-star games.
However, Witkowski will be ineligible to take part in all winter and spring sports for the 2014-2015 school year, including, but not limited to, basketball and track.
The OHSAA argued the primary basis for ruling him ineligible at 19 is his athletic maturity and prowess compared to those 18 and under.
Witkowski rushed for 1200 yards as a junior running back, and was also voted All-Conference.