Clayton to ask judge to intervene

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

ST. LOUIS -- The governing board of Missouri's high school athletics on Tuesday affirmed that Clayton High School must forfeit its nine varsity football victories this season and sit out the state playoffs for using an ineligible player.

In response, the St. Louis-area school system planned to ask a federal judge to intervene, seeking a ruling that would let the Greyhounds play in the Class 4A state playoffs scheduled to begin with sectionals today.

Clayton's school board has authorized its attorney to take the matter to U.S. District Court "first thing Wednesday morning," the district said in a statement.

Possible recourse could include asking a judge to let Clayton advance to the playoffs while the forfeiture issue and Byrd's residency would be decided later.

Barring court intervention, the ruling means St. Mary's High School of St. Louis -- not Clayton -- will hold the Class 4, District 5 football title and host St. Louis' Vashon High in tonight's sectionals, the Missouri State High School Activities Association said.

In a 3-0 vote, the MSHSAA panel ruled to deny unrestricted eligibility for junior quarterback Jairus Byrd -- the son of Rams defensive assistant Gill Byrd -- under a hardship provision.

The board also denied Clayton High's request for penalties lesser than forfeitures under the byline the school district has termed "vague."

By a 2-1 vote last Friday, the association's appeals committee found that Clayton High had used Byrd in its first nine games, as the school had self-reported earlier last week.

Byrd is a student at Clayton through the district's tuition program and lives with his family in an Earth City hotel, near the St. Louis Rams' practice facility and inside the Pattonville School District.

Shortly before this season, the Byrds moved to St. Louis from Wisconsin, where Gill Byrd worked in the Green Bay Packers' front office. The school board's attorney has said the Byrds chose to send their son to Clayton because of the school's strong academic reputation.

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