It might have taken a few weeks, but the powers-that-be in Wayne got it right when they reinstated the suspension of the nine Wayne Hills football players who were involved in the altercation with two Wayne Valley students that caused serious injuries.
Wayne Hills will have to face Old Tappan for the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1, Group III championship tomorrow night at MetLife Stadium without the nine suspended players _ and deservedly so.
The Wayne Hills nine (sounds like an old baseball team) were first suspended by the Board of Education, then reinstated after a disgraceful public display at a Board hearing, then re-suspended by the Superintendent, then finally after a legal appeal process from some attorneys represented the suspended players, they were ruled ineligible by a state Administrative Law judge and finally upheld by the state Commissioner of Education.
It was a lengthy, costly process where there were no winners. The bottom line was that those teenagers lost all right to play football once they were arrested.
These legal eagles tried twist the fate a little by stating in their appeals that the players didn't deserve to be suspended for reasons such as:
1.) There was no proof that three of the accused nine were present at the time of the incident.
2.) They are being prosecuted by the court of public opinion and their reputations are forever tarnished because of the suspensions and that the general public will know the identities of the nine (excluding the adult charged, Andrew Monaghan) by figuring out which ones are missing at the game Saturday by looking at the roster.
3.) That they are being punished before they get their day in court.
4.) That the incident did not take place during school hours or during a school activity, so therefore the school district has no right to enforce any punishment against them.
All of that is hogwash. They lost every right to be Wayne Hills football players the minute they were arrested. Guilty or not in the court of law, they relinquished their privilege rights once they were carted to the police precinct and booked. End of subject.
If they play another sport at the school, the same thing should apply. They should not be eligible to participate in athletics until they have had their day in court and they are then exonerated. Without that, they are done. Plain and simple.
But there were a lot of people in Wayne who wanted to circumvent the laws and who didn't want to do the right thing by keeping those kids on the sidelines. Well, that didn't work and the right thing was done _ ironically in a court of law with attorneys fighting tooth and nail, using every excuse in the book except common sense, in the process.
They're out and bravo on that.
About 60 miles south of Wayne, there was another incident that involved suspensions of football players who didn't do the right thing. Only this case wasn't highly publicized. There were no arrests. There were no court appearances, appeals, public meetings with teams in full uniform. Nothing.
Matawan will play at Rutgers Stadium Saturday night against Rumson-Fair Haven for the Central Jersey Group II championship. Matawan will be a little shorthanded, because five players were suspended by head football coach Joe Martucci, who also serves as the school's athletic director, because they did something really stupid.
Nothing criminal, nothing that required police, just plain stupid teenage idiocy. But Martucci, knowing that the kids deserved to be punished, followed the school policy and suspended the five gridders for two weeks. It happens to include the state championship game.
There was no fanfare, no controversy, no press conferences. Just a football coach and administrator doing the right thing and punishing kids for inappropriate behavior.
Star-Ledger columnist Steve Politi did a fine job in reporting the Matawan incident in today's column.
Here's the link: http://www.nj.com/hssports/blog/football/index.ssf/2011/12/politi_unlike_wayne_hills_matawan_high_school_handles_a_discipline_issue_the_right_way.html
Why Wayne Hills couldn't do the same thing in the first place is beyond me.
Bravo to Martucci who had to make a tough decision, one that may hurt his team's chances to win a state title. But in education, what's right is right. Martucci knows that.
For the wizards out there who think that you can equate the Penn State-Sandusky case with the Syracuse-Fine case, here's something to chew on:
1. No one has been arrested in the Syracuse case yet. There have been no handcuffs, no federal indictments, no perp walks, nothing. Crimes took place in Happy Valley. Those were criminal acts.
2. There are legitimate witnesses who saw Sandusky with the little boys. It's documented in an indictment report. There is graphic proof that has been presented in a court of law.
3. There is also allegations of heinous acts against the little boys in Pennsylvania. In Syracuse, it appears that we have two disgruntled stepbrothers and one illusional child molester who can't seem to tell the truth.
4. So until someone gets arrested in Syracuse, this is just allegations and speculation. Penn State, there have been arrests.
Now, my two cents on the Bernie Fine case. It seems to be more of a bizarre, whacked out marriage gone wrong. To think that this Bobby Davis was molested and fondled by Fine for years, then he ends up in bed with his wife? She felt bad that the boy was fondled, so she decided to have some of him herself?
And if Davis was so mortified and bothered by the molestation for years, then why did he go back for more at age 26? At age 26, then it's not child molestation. It's called a gay affair.
The Tomaselli kid, who is apparently another victim, is another piece of work. He is up on child molestation charges in Maine and decides to tell the authorities about Fine to lessen the charges against himself? His story about going on the team bus to Pittsburgh holds no credence, because they didn't travel by bus. His own father said that the kid is lying and then Tomaselli counters by saying his father molested him. Ugh.
But ESPN, the high and almighty sports phenomenon, which only reports the truth, continues to parade these people on air to tell stories that they can't really confirm.
And for anyone to think that the Syracuse's problem is just as bad as Penn State's, do yourself a favor. Google the Sandusky indictment report. It's online. It's a legal document. After you reach for the Pepto for being sick to your stomach, come back and tell me it's the same thing as a disgruntled adult, who had sex with the accused's wife of all things, coming forth and saying he was touched inappropriately.
The two are not the same by any means, other than they accuse a college assistant coach of child molestation.
Penn State's case is legitimized in the court of law. Syracuse's case right now is speculation and accustation.
One final note. Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis is the most imposing, most impressive college basketball player I've seen since an 18-year-old manchild named Shaquille O'Neal arrived at LSU in 1990.
The 6-foot-11 Davis has arms longer than Lindsay Lohan's stays in rehab. He blocks nearly every shot in sight. He runs the floor like a gazelle and he has soft hands to catch and shoot. He's the total package.
I read last night where one NBA scout was quoted as saying that Davis' "upside is tremendous." That's an understatement. The kid in three years could become the next Bill Russell. He's that good.
You can read more of my work at www.hudsonreporter.com (great piece on SPC point guard Brandon Hall upcoming this Sunday), www.theobserver.com and www.dailyrecord.com, where I will be all over the Morris County teams in the NJSIAA state sectional finals.