Court hearing set on Kahuku's request to be included in state football tourney

Della Belatti
Della Belatti
Lyle Hosoda
Lyle Hosoda
Kahuku football team
Kahuku football team

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Attorneys for Kahuku High football players and parents on Monday filed a motion for a temporary restraining order against the Oahu Interscholastic Association, the Hawaii High School Athletic Association and state schools superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi in hopes of getting the Red Raiders into the state tournament, which is set to kick off this Friday.

The OIA ruled that the undefeated and top-ranked Red Raiders would have to forfeit games and lose their chance for a state tourney bid for having a fifth-year high school student on the squad this season.

Circuit Judge Karl Sakamoto has been assigned to the case. He is scheduled to hold a hearing on the TRO motion Tuesday.

Lawyers for the Kahuku players blame a clerical error for the ineligible athlete being on the team. They say he was a reserve who saw minimal time on the field.

"The OIA's hastily conducted meetings and superficial investigations have resulted in irreparable harm and loss of significant and valuable opportunities by Plaintiffs," Eric Seitz, plaintiffs' attorney, wrote in his motion.

But the OIA says Kahuku's principal reported that the student had played in several games. The OIA disqualified the team from the league's championship game against Mililani last week because it used the ineligible player in its semifinal win against Radford.

"The OIA did everything possible to try and accommodate Kahuku because, you know, it's not like sides here," Lyle Hosoda, OIA's attorney, said. "We're all together in one community."

The plaintiffs' attorneys say the rest of the squad should not have to suffer such a stiff punishment.

"Based upon the facts and circumstances of this case, there is a clear likelihood that Plaintiffs will prevail upon the merits of their claims that Defendant OIA abused its discretion under its own Bylaws and Constitution, that Plaintiffs due process rights were violated, and that the suspension of the entire KHS football team was unwarranted," the TRO motion also said.

The OIA says it would like nothing more than to have its best teams in the state tournament, but an eligibility rule was violated.

"It's really sad," Hosoda said. "It's a situation that is unfortunate and very regrettable. On behalf of the OIA, Kahuku has got a rich and very wonderful history."

The parties hope Judge Sakamoto can issue his ruling by Tuesday afternoon. If it goes in favor of Kahuku, the OIA would be stuck with too many representatives in the state tourney.

"You're going to have other communities upset," Hosoda said. "For example, Waianae is now in the state championship. If Kahuku is allowed to play, Waianae will not play."

State Attorney General Mark Bennett declined comment on the legal case Monday.

The HHSAA, which runs the state football tournament, said on Sunday that any delay in the games would be devastating since flight arrangements, hotel accommodations and venue rentals have already been secured.

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