Berlin High football team forced to forfeit victories amid inves - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Berlin High football team forced to forfeit victories amid investigation

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CIAC investigating Berlin High School football team (WFSB) CIAC investigating Berlin High School football team (WFSB)

The Berlin High School football team was forced to forfeit all football victories this season following an investigation into illegal players on its team.

The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) Board of Control accepted a report from the high school, which was aided by an independent investigation, and was for use of ineligible players and recruitment.

"This is probably the most severe simply because we have good evidence supporting the violations of four students," Karissa Niehoff with CIAC said. 

The football team was investigated for allegedly shipping players across town lines to New Britain. In exchange, they would be given certain incentives. 

"We heard from folks who gave us testimony that there could have been college scholarships, possible housing in the community, some guaranteed playing time," Niehoff said. 

Some alleged that students from New Britain were playing for the Berlin Redcoats and the state vetted each member on the team, making sure they actually live within the town limits.

"It’s a shame because it does affect the people that were playing by the rules and the kids who were in the program doing the right things," said Andrew Hannah of New Britain.

On Wednesday afternoon, they ruled the Berlin football program violated the rules and would be sanctioned.  

"The damage that's done goes far beyond the Berlin program. Now you have teams in the tournament and even going back into the early season records that are impacted," Niehoff said.

In addition to forfeiting all victories this season in which any ineligible player participated in, the team is prohibited from the CIAC Championship competition for the 2015 season, is on probation for one year for the football program, and the school will be fined $4,000 ($1,000 for each ineligible player.)

The coaches will also have to go through additional training with the athletic conference.

"The students involved if they remain at Berlin will be ineligible to participate in athletics at Berlin for the remainder of their high school experience," Niehoff said.  

In a statement, Berlin Superintendent of Schools Dave Erwin said "we are disappointed by the investigation," but the school will accept the sanctions. "The ones who suffer are the students involved."

While the game between New Britain and Berlin on Friday night will go on, there will be changes. Erwin said the high school principal and the athletic director will talk to the Berlin players before the game. 

"Those ineligible kids cannot play in the game. If they do play, they forfeit the game. If they play only the students who are eligible its a legitimate football game," Niehoff said.   

The Berlin football team sported a 6-1 record this season.This decision will impact the records of other high school football teams.

Berlin will still play New Britain on Friday night.

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