April 27, 2015 by Charlie Eisenhood in News with 43 comments
Post updated on Tuesday at 1:30 PM Eastern.
USA Ultimate announced late tonight that Tulane University has been disqualified from the College Championships after it was discovered that Tulane was competing with an academically ineligible player.
The player in question forged team documentation that was submitted to USA Ultimate, which was discovered upon USAU’s due diligence performed on every team that makes Nationals. The player admitted to “misrepresenting to USA Ultimate his status as a student at the university.” He has not been named.
“Yesterday morning, I got a phone call from one of the Tulane coaches,” said Southeast Regional Coordinator John Martin today by telephone. “He asked me if I had any roster issues or if I knew anything about eligibility issues with any of the Tulane players. I didn’t, because all of the Regionals rosters cleared. It was much a shocker to me as everybody else.”
Martin and a source close to the team both said that player who submitted the roster to USA Ultimate was the one to doctor the documents to hide his own eligibility issues. That player was the only one to know about it; the coaching staff and his teammates were oblivious to any problems.
The team leadership found out yesterday and the full team found out last night about 30 minutes before USA Ultimate made their official announcement. The captains called a meeting about Nationals and informed the team that they had been disqualified.
Since all four bids in the Southeast were earned by teams other than Tulane, USAU decided to offer Tulane’s spot to Auburn, the fifth place finisher at Southeast Regionals. Auburn will be the last seed from the Southeast, behind Florida State, Central Florida, and Georgia.
Martin said that he was asked by the Tulane coaches to inform Auburn of what was going on so they weren’t blindsided by the USAU announcement.
“It’s unfortunate that the decisions and actions of one individual compromised an entire team’s opportunity to fulfill its goal of competing at the College Championships,” said Ty Krajec, USA Ultimate Manager of Competition & Athlete Programs, in a statement. “Tulane otherwise had a tremendous season and has a lot to be proud of both on and off the field. That said, Auburn is a worthy recipient of a trip to Nationals, and we hope they represent the Southeast region well.”
Auburn had an excellent season, notching some big wins at the Stanford Invite and various other tournaments.
“Of course we’re super excited, but we hate it for those guys,” Auburn captain Garris Bugg told Ultiworld. “I don’t know all the details, but I cant believe it. I’m really sad for them. We play club with them! It’s hard to see them complete this amazing goal and then have it taken away from them. Being in their situation after working all year…it’s…it’s just hard to imagine.”
The team is still fired up, though, and Bugg said he has “group messages that are filled with all caps messages, tons of questions, and smiley face emojis.”
Tulane released a statement as well. Captains Ben Lamport and Patrick Murphy wrote:
“After winning third place in the Southeast Regional Championships this past weekend, we were shocked to learn that one of our players was academically ineligible to participate. We are heartbroken and disappointed that we didn’t learn this prior to the postseason. As a result, we will be unable to participate in the 2015 College Championships.
“We have spent the day working with USAU to handle the matter in a fair and efficient way, and we greatly appreciate their support in such a difficult situation. We would like to extend our sincerest apologies to all the teams and players adversely affected.”
As of Tuesday at 1:30 PM Eastern, Tulane has not responded to a request for comment.
Additional reporting from Preston Thompson.