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Edgewood High loses WIAA appeal, court date set for Friday

The WIAA’s ruling forced the team to vacate all wins this season
Published: Nov. 4, 2021 at 12:43 PM CDT|Updated: Nov. 4, 2021 at 7:27 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Edgewood High School is turning to the courts after losing its appeal with the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association of a ruling that forced the school’s undefeated football team to forfeit all its games this season and knocked it out of the state playoffs.

In a statement released Thursday afternoon, school president Mike Elliot explained Edgewood wants the court to issue a temporary restraining order on Tuesday’s decision to disqualify the Crusaders from the playoffs. The case is set to go before a judge Friday morning.

The WIAA’s initial ruling meant Kewaskum High, which lost 40-0 to Edgewood the previous weekend, would advance and the Indians are scheduled to kick off Saturday against Columbus. In WIAA’s statement Thursday, following its rejection of the appeal, the high school association asserted Edgewood was afforded due process and its role is to enforce its rules as written.

“We recognize that this is an unfortunate situation for all involved, and we share in everyone’s disappointment with the circumstances; however, the WIAA has the responsibility to uphold the integrity of the rules of education-based athletics as established by the member schools,” the WIAA stated.

In a complaint filed Thursday in the Dane County Circuit Court, the lawsuit seeks not only to allow Edgewood back into the playoffs, but it also demands the WIAA restore all nine regular season wins and its two playoff victories, Elliot continued. It also seeks to address the eligibility status of the player at the heart of the WIAA ruling, whom Elliot identified as Cam Fane.

Elliot described that the situation surrounding Fane’s eligibility is “purely administrative,” and he emphasized that Fane did not make any mistakes that led to the decision.

“We are immensely proud not only of how Cam has handled himself during this very difficult situation, but of all the hard work he has done and the commitment he has made to Edgewood, his teammates and the entire school community,” Elliot continued.

The complaint states that Fane went to high school as a freshman at Madison West in the fall of 2017, then transferred to Juan Seguin High School in Arlington, Texas to live with family. He attended that school for his second semester of his freshman year, as well as his second year, third year and first semester of his fourth year.

Fane moved back to Wisconsin when he turned 18 years old and enrolled at Edgewood in January of 2021, at which point the complaint states he had completed seven semesters of high school between Madison West and Seguin.

Fane enrolled in Edgewood in its graduating class of 2022 as a second semester junior, classifying him academically as completing five high school semesters and entering Edgewood in his sixth semester.

The complaint continues, saying Edgewood decided to enroll Fane as a second semester junior because he wanted to improve his academic standing to get into a good college and he needed more than one semester to complete the religious education and community service hour requirement all Edgewood students must complete before graduation.

In a complaint, it summarizes the years Fane played high school football and what schools he attended by year:

Year of High SchoolSchool YearFall Semester SchoolSpring Semester SchoolFootball
12017-18Madison WestSeguinYes
22018-19Seguin (TX)Seguin (TX)Yes
32019-20Seguin (TX)Seguin (TX)Yes
42020-21Seguin (TX)EdgewoodNo
52021-22EdgewoodEdgewoodYes

Edgewood Athletic Director Chris Zwettler worked with Edgewood staff to submit an application to the WIAA on Fane’s behalf to waive the residence and transfer requirement that would make a student ineligible to play sports for one calendar year, unless the transfer is due to the student’s parents relocating.

A student can also claim “extenuating circumstances” which WIAA Rules of Eligibility defined as an “unforeseeable, unavoidable and uncorrectable act, condition or event which result in severe burden and/or involuntary change, that mitigates the rule.”

Zwettler provided multiple documents to Deputy Director of WIAA Wade Labecki, who no longer works at the WIAA, to prove extenuating circumstances. These documents include a letter from Zwettler urging the eligibility waiver be allowed, a letter from Fane about how his home life had impacted his academic career and a completed residence/transfer waiver request checklist from the WIAA.

Labecki informed Edgewood that the WIAA had granted the waiver of residence and transfer requirement on March 11, according to the complaint saying it made its decision based on “the documented extenuating circumstances you have made us aware of.” This made Fane immediately eligible for athletics.

Beyond announcing the lawsuit, Elliot used the statement to promise the school would release more information about the WIAA’s controversial decision that, he said, would “dispel some of the unfortunate rumors that have circulated.”

On Nov. 1, which was the first business day after Edgewood had defeated Kewaskum 40-0, WIAA Associate Director Mel Dow informed Edgewood that they had failed to fill out a Fifth Year Waiver form for Fane. This made Fane ineligible, forcing Edgewood to forfeit its record for the season. Edgewood claims there is no reference to needing this form in the WIAA Handbook and appealed on Nov. 2.

NBC15 has reached out to the attorney representing the WIAA since receiving the complaint, but we have not heard back.

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