Walker football team banned from post-season play for post-game - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Walker football team banned from post-season play for post-game fight with Cullman; coaches suspended

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Photo courtesy of Jeff Johnsey/Daily Mountain Eagle. Photo courtesy of Jeff Johnsey/Daily Mountain Eagle.

The Alabama High School Athletic Association levied stiff penalties Thursday against Walker and Cullman high schools for a post-game fight last week.

Walker, who was already on non-restrictive probation for an incident in 2012, has been placed on restrictive probation for the remainder of the season, preventing the team from competing in post-season play. Cullman has been placed on non-restrictive probation for one year. Both teams have been fined $1,500.

Walker head coach John Holladay resigned from his position Tuesday for his role in a fist-fight with Bearcats' assistant coach Matt Hopper. Both coaches have been suspended for the remainder of the season.

The Vikings have since named offensive coordinator Heath Brunner as its interim head coach.

The AHSAA states that if Holladay returns to Walker, the school will be given an additional year of probation, non-restrictive in type.

Cullman will be allowed to compete in post-season play unless it violates another sanction, at which time the team will be placed on restrictive probation similarly to Walker.

Both schools are being allowed an opportunity to have its fines reduced to $1,000 respectively should players and coaches complete a professional development session administered by the AHSAA's mentoring program. Information regarding an expected completion date was not made available.

Shortly after the punishments were released, Walker Principal Gary Boling released a statement apologizing for the incident and accepting the penalties.

"Walker High School is very saddened by these events and accepts these penalties," Boling said. "We apologize for the behavior that was exhibited and pledge to emphasize and put into place the measures necessary to prevent this kind of behavior in the future by a Walker High School student, coach or teacher."

Boling said the school will be developing a sportsmanship and leadership program for its student-athletes and coaches. He said the team plans to follow the AHSAA's recommendation for the aforementioned mentoring program.

Click here to read Boling's complete statement.

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Release from the AHSAA:

Walker High School has been placed on restrictive probation for the remainder of the 2013 football season and Cullman High School has been placed on non-restrictive probation for one year and each school fined $1,500 for flagrant unsportsmanlike conduct during an altercation between both schools following their varsity football game at Jasper Aug. 30.

Walker head coach John Holladay and Cullman assistant coach Matt Hopper have been suspended for the remainder of the 2013 football season for their involvement in the incident.

Walker High School is currently on non-restrictive probation for a flagrant unsportsmanlike incident during the 2012 football season that resulted in a warning that if a similar incident occurred during that probationary period, restrictive sanctions would be assessed.

A second year of restrictive probation will be assessed to Walker High School if Holladay is the WHS head football coach. If not, the school is assessed a one-year probationary period for the 2014 football season that is non-restrictive.

Restrictive probation limits the school's football teams to participation only in regular-season games and prohibits the school from participating in an interscholastic football contest involving more than two schools, including championships, for the duration of the restrictive probation.

Cullman High School is placed on probation for the remainder of the 2013 season and received a warning that should similar incidents occur in the future, restrictive sanctions may be assessed.

"The AHSAA encourages the two schools to work together to enhance relations between their student-athletes and communities and, in doing so, demonstrate the leadership necessary to foster the AHSAA's mission of good sportsmanship in interscholastic athletics," said AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese.

"It is time to move the focus away from this isolated event and note the outstanding sportsmanship that is exhibited across our state by our member schools, teams and coaches each week. Let's now move forward and accent the positive impact education-based athletics makes daily in the lives of our student-athletes, coaches, schools and communities."         

It is a recommendation of the AHSAA that both schools' football players and coaches complete one professional development session administered by the AHSAA's mentoring program. If so, the $1,500 fine for each school will be reduced to $1,000.

Any additional statements must come from the schools. The AHSAA will make no additional statement concerning this matter.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Johnsey/Daily Mountain Eagle.

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