AUSTIN — After spending two hours in a suit at an appeals hearing in Austin and another six hours in the car, Bob Wager — Arlington Martin's head coach — couldn't wait to get to practice.
Wager's players and coaches were already working out when he ran onto the field, blew his whistle three times and became swarmed by his players in the middle of the practice field for a spontaneous celebration.
"It was something that had to be done," Wager said about his trip to Austin for Martin's appeal. "Obviously, I'm excited about having the opportunity to come back and greet these kids with some positive news today. It's been a tough couple of weeks."
The appeal was successful, and six days after having to forfeit three wins for using an ineligible player, Martin got the wins back.
The issue involved the eligibility of a player who came to Martin from Arlington High School during the season. Arlington coach Scott Peach submitted an incorrect Previous Athletic Participation Form. Peach was at the hearing and made clear the paperwork issue was his fault, not Wager's.
"The forfeitures that were made by the District Executive Committee were based on the fact that they played an ineligible player," said Mike Motheral, Chair of the UIL State Executive Committee. "He wasn't ineligible at the time — probably should've been, but he was not."
"This is our community's reputation," Wager said. "This is our program's reputation. This is our kids' reputations, coaches' reputations. I hope that this will go a long way in regards to restoring that great reputation."
Thanks to the successful appeal, Martin goes from being in fifth place back into a tie for first. They'll play Arlington Bowie for the district championship Thursday night.