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St. Thomas More files appeal with WIAA to allow school to move forward in playoffs following fight

Posted at 5:11 PM, Mar 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-08 18:19:27-05

MILWAUKEE — UPDATE: The coach of St. Thomas More says the WIAA will not consider an appeal. The school is talking with attorneys about the feasibility of filing for an injunction.
WIAA told TMJ4 News their membership rules for tournament play do not allow for appeals pertaining to decisions of game officials.

St. Thomas More High School has filed an appeal with the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA). The team is asking the league to reconsider its suspension of the school’s varsity players following a fight at a game Friday.

During the final moments of the game, a St. Thomas More student went down and was stepped over by a player from the opposing team, the Fuller Academy.

The More student pushed the Fuller student, and the Fuller student pushed back harder. Within moments, players from both teams, and even people from the stands, were on the court. It’s hard to tell who was hitting who in video that captured the fight, but St. Thomas More officials say three of their students were injured.

The game was ended immediately, but a later review of the referee notes led the WIAA to suspend the varsity players of both schools because they left the bench during the fight.

St. Thomas More was set to move on in the playoff’s the next day against Brown Deer, but with only having junior varsity (JV) players available, the team forfeited the game.

“A JV team going into a game against a good Brown Deer team would have been putting our student athletes in a bad spot,” said St. Thomas More coach and president John Hoch.

Student athletes say this was a special season and this isn’t the way anyone wanted to see it end.

“When you build that family bond that we created this year, especially this year, it was really hard” said Senior Isaiah Malison.

The school later decided to file an appeal with the league, asking them to watch the video of the altercation and re-evaluate their decision. WIAA Director of Communications Todd Clark says there are rules in place to protect the calls and decisions of the officials.

“They are in there for reasons that the nation has looked at and decided these rules need to be in place to protect our officials and the judgment calls of officials,” says Clark.

Fuller academy sent TMJ4 News the following statement:

"We are aware of an incident that took place during the boy’s varsity basketball game on Friday, March 4. This is unfortunate for both schools and the Milwaukee community. We consider this an isolated incident. We reviewed the videotape from the game and met with WIAA officials who have investigated and made their ruling, which we accept.  The exchanges shared on social media since the incident are not productive and often inaccurate.  Our priority, as always, is to ensure the care and safety of our students and staff. We will support our students, families, and staff as they seek justice and are committed to helping them find healing.”     

As of Monday evening, St. Thomas More team members were practicing as if they might play their game against Brown Deer at a later date.

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