Lafayette has been forced by Section VI to forfeit all of its boys soccer wins, but the Mighty Violets will remain champions of the Buffalo Public Schools league because it’s a title they earned through competition on the field, according to district athletic director Aubrey Lloyd.
Lloyd said Thursday that Lafayette athletes won’t be penalized for what he called a paperwork issue by the district that impacted the eligibility of several players on the team.
The eligibility problem is a merger that wasn’t approved by Section VI that has resulted in the team being stripped of all its victories (nine) and power points used to determine seeding for the coming Section VI Tournament.
“Did the district, did we drop the ball on this one?” Lloyd said. “We’re going to do everything in our power to fix it.”
According to an email obtained Thursday by The News, the Mighty Violets, who as of Wednesday had a 9-3-2 overall record, consisted of players who not only attend Lafayette High School but also students who attend a school housed within the same building called Newcomers Academy of Lafayette.
According to the email sent by Section VI Boys Soccer Chairman Todd Marquardt to area coaches: “The Section VI Executive Committee denied Lafayette and Lafayette Newcomers combining of schools application. Therefore, Lafayette will participate in Class D as originally scheduled.”
Marquardt did not return messages left for him.
Lloyd has already contacted the New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association to initiate the appeals process.
“Students were on the team last year, they were part of the Lafayette school,” Lloyd said. “I hope the state does not penalize students because adults didn’t submit paperwork.”
Newcomers Academy is a school for youths who recently arrived in the United States who are still learning the English language. There is also a third school housed within the building called Lafayette International, which was created to replace old Lafayette High School, which is still being phased out, according to district spokesperson Elena Cala.
The enrollment number being assigned to Newcomers appears to have changed what Lafayette had been able to do in the past with athletes in that program. Newcomers Academy at Lafayette received an enrollment BED number for the first time in January, roughly two months after the deadline for schools to submit BED numbers to Section VI for size classification for the 2017 fall season.
Lloyd, who oversees athletics for the second largest school district in the state, said he didn’t know there were any potential eligibility issues with the team until Section VI contacted him a month ago.
Lloyd said he asked Violets coach Brad Brodnicki for a roster, and at that point realized the team had players from Newcomers. After reporting it to the section, he was informed he needed to submit a combined program application to the section.
“My coach is a good coach,” Lloyd said. “This was not a malicious intent by him. This was not a malicious intent by the district. It was a paperwork snafu.”
The five players from Newcomers Academy won’t be allowed to play with the team during the appeals process. Lloyd said Lafayette will have about 15 players for sectionals.
As a result of the non-approved merger, Lafayette (0-15-0) falls back into Class D after being bumped up to Class C.
The Mighty Violets’ regular-season finale against Riverside on Thursday was postponed, to be made up down the road.
Brodnicki said Friday morning that taking away the D'Youville Cup title as Buffalo Schools champion would've made a bad situation worse. It's an emotionally difficult time for members of the team (the reason Thursday's game was postponed), especially Mighty Violets who now must take a seat.
"I had kids crying ... telling them they couldn't play," Brodnicki said. "They took it hard. ... I think a lot of them still don't understand why they can't play."