By Jeff Louderback
With senior point guard Ryan Marchal on the bench because of a two-game suspension by the OHSAA, Centerville fell to undefeated and top-ranked Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller in the regional final on Saturday, 59-41.
Marchal received the suspension after being inexplicably whistled for two technicals in the Elks’ regional semifinal victory over Springfield on Wednesday. The OHSAA did not rescind the suspension following Centerville’s appeal, even though video footage shows Marchal did nothing to warrant the technicals, and that the details in the officials’ ejection report do not reflect what actually happened as evidenced by the video footage.
I wrote a story on Thursday that described the events from that game that led to the technicals, and then a follow-up article was posted on Friday upon learning that the OHSAA upheld Marchal’s suspension. As described in the follow-up column, this is a story that needs to be told – and a discussion that should continue – because the OHSAA could have rescinded the suspension on the basis that the ejection report and the video footage don’t match, yet the organization made a decision that ended Marchal’s high school basketball experience and a chance to play in the regional final.
This article showcases the ingredients that currently define the story, including the Tweet from ESPN’s Jay Bilas of the Dayton Sports Huddle column from Friday, and a response from OHSAA executive director Jerry Snodgrass along with the email exchange that produced the astonishing “we haven’t seen the video yet and we won’t be able to process the ejection report until next week” message. Then there are the most two important items – the aforementioned officials’ ejection report, and video footage of the plays that resulted in the two technicals called on Marchal.
Sources close to the action (Cintas Center has floor seats) heard one official say “nothing, nothing, nothing” after the call that led to the first technical, which seemingly indicates that he felt there was no reason to call an infraction. After the second technical was whistled, the same sources say they heard the same official ask his fellow crew member who called the second technical, “Do you know what you’re doing? That is his second technical (indicating the consequences Marchal would face if that second T was indeed called). The official who blew the whistle reportedly responded, “I don’t care.”
We continue with this Tweet, which was posted by Bilas on Friday….
….which prompted this response from OHSAA’s Jerry Snodgrass:
We are omitting the OHSAA spokesperson’s name in the following email exchange because that is not important here. I had asked about the process for reviewing technical fouls, player ejections and suspensions; and if I could interview an appropriate contact. What is relevant is the timeline on the response compared to the Tweet by Jerry Snodgrass, and also the dismissive tone that indicates a lack of interest in the Marchal appeal.
Sent: Friday, March 15, 2019 6:44 AM
To: jeff louderback
Subject: Re: Interview request with OHSAA officiating spokesperson regarding Centerville-Springfield
Hi Jeff, thanks for your email, but we have not seen the video yet and won’t be able to process the ejection report until next week. We are conducting the girls basketball state tournament this week.
From: jeff louderback <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Friday, March 15, 2019 10:12 AM
To: (Name omitted here by Dayton Sports Huddle)
Subject: RE: Interview request with OHSAA officiating spokesperson regarding Centerville-Springfield
I am a bit puzzled. The Centerville game is Saturday. Wouldn’t the director of officiating, or the contact who handles oversight of officials for OHSAA, look at the video footage and the officials reports beforehand to determine whether or not Ryan Marchal can play? I just want to give OHSAA an opportunity to comment since this story will be posted today.
Here is the response we received on 3/15/2019 4:24 PM, less than an hour after Jerry Snodgrass posted his response to the Jay Bilas Tweet:
“Hi Jeff – our officiating department staff has now watched that entire game to review the calls. At this time, the two technical foul calls will stand and be enforced.”
Not exactly the response in a “very timely manner” that Snodgrass wrote in his Tweet, eh? The appeal, made on behalf of Marchal by the Centerville High School athletic department on Thursday morning, was swiftly denied, apparently a day before the OHSAA allegedly “watched that entire game to review the calls.”
Considering that the officials’ report filed with the OHSAA (which is found in the image below) contains a description of the two calls that are significantly different than what actually occurred, as evidenced by the video footage included below the photo of the officials’ report, one or a combination of two of the following could be accurate:
- The OHSAA never reviewed the footage, instead choosing to trust the information in the report.
- The OHSAA did finally get around to reviewing the footage (likely because of pressure related to negative publicity from readers who learned about the debacle because of the Jay Bilas Tweet), and they decided to ignore the disparities between the footage and the officials’ report, and not rescind the suspension.
- There is no formal plan in place to review ejection reports, in the regular season or the postseason, and the OHSAA never considered reversing the suspension.
We don’t know because the OHSAA has not offered an explanation of its decision, nor has it discussed whether or not there is protocol for reviewing officials’ ejection reports, and if there is, how that process works.
This leads us to the officials’ ejection report, and the video footage of the plays that resulted in the two technicals:
The report’s author, the official who called the second technical, writes that what resulted in the first technical was Marchal taking a few steps and making contact with Springfield’s #4 as if Marchal was instigating a fight. The video footage features Marchal getting up after he was tied up by Springfield defenders, taking a short step, looking up and inadvertently brushing against #4, who either accidentally lost his balance and tumbled to the ground, or demonstrated an Oscar-worthy flop.
In the second technical, after the Springfield player fouled Davis Mumaw (who had grabbed a rebound), the report’s author wrote that Marchal knocked the ball out of the hands of the Springfield player and Mumaw. The video footage illustrates that Marchal gave Mumaw, his teammate, a congratulatory slap on the arm, which dislodged the ball. The Springfield player never had possession of the ball, and there is no visible sign of a potential altercation.
What should happen as a result of the situation surrounding the Marchal suspension? Centerville head coach Brook Cupps said,
“I’m disappointed in the OHSAA because it’s an organization that is supposed to represent the best interest of the kids. They do a good job 95 percent of the time, but in this situation, they did not make a decision that was in the best interest of Ryan Marchal.
“They took away an opportunity for a player who deserved to be on the court.
“Every kid’s high school career is going to end, but no kid’s career should end like that. I understand that ours was not the only basketball game going on at that time since there are boys and girls tournament games across the state, but I don’t believe it would take a lot of time where a system is created to review ejection reports and footage, and make sure that unjust suspensions from incorrect calls do not stand.
“I believe that a change needs to be made so this does not happen to another school and another kid. What if it was your child who had his or her career interrupted or ended because of an incorrect decision that could be reversed? What if it was my child? I’ve spoken with Jerry Snodgrass and want to make sure that dialogue continues and a fair solution is established that represents the best interests of student athletes at every Ohio school.”