Why did the Butler Grizzlies football team have to forfeit their wins and what will happen going forward
Note: While we, the Butler County Times-Gazette, are aware of who the player is, we've made the decision to not publish his name as the school and the conference has not done either. If they decide to name the player, we will as well.
The JUCO world was sort of tossed upside down when the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference announced one of the most prestigious football programs in NJCAA history of the association were being forced to forfeit their wins on the season.
What happened? A Butler football player was ruled ineligible after it was discovered he had played two years at a four-year institution already. The result? Butler forfeit their wins this season, dropping Butler to 0-8 on the year.
It's not the first time the KJCCC has dealt with this before. In 2019, Fort Scott was found to be using a player whose paperwork was not completed during a transfer from another school. Iowa Central reported this to the NJCAA and the Greyhounds saw one of their best seasons in a decade wiped out.
Fast forward to 2021, we're in the same boat.
Butler's season has been decimated by forfeits now after being arguably the hottest team in the conference, ending the season by winning their final four games in convincing fashion.
How did we get here? On Monday night, Butler was notified they were aware a school within the conference had made a report to the KJCCC Commissioner, Carl Heinrich, that the player was ineligible due to already playing two seasons at the collegiate level. Those two seasons were prior to COVID-19. He also played a year at another four-year school during the COVID-19 season, where all levels gave players a free pass.
When the player reached out to Butler to play in El Dorado over the summer, the school did their research when the player said he had only played in four games. Their research at the time matched up to what the student athlete said.
Butler didn't let this player play in the loss to Independence due to not having all of his transcripts; to the point they received his transcripts from his two schools on the Saturday of the Independence game, but it did not have the seal required to be officials, so he didn't play and was held out. The school received the official transcript a few days later and he played the final seven games for Butler.
On Monday night after Butler was informed of the allegation, they did their own research, as did the Butler County Times-Gazette, said player played in 11 games in 2019 as a sophomore for his four-year institution, making him ineligible. He played in 12 games as a freshman.
As one person from Butler said: "we made a mistake, we're owning it." One thing you're not seeing from Butler players is heads hanging or shoulders slumping. It may have made the fire a little stronger going into the playoff.
Officially, the NJCAA has sanctioned Butler for the ineligible player and the forfeits are official, despite no official complaint on file.
We all know about the KJCCC ruling and now that player is ineligible and Butler is the lowest seed heading into the playoffs.
For Butler, they'll have to run the gauntlet to win a conference championship. For a team like Coffeyville, that may be the same, too. While they are playing the eighth seed at home on Sunday, it's arguably a match up we should have seen in the championship game.
One person at Coffeyville felt the frustration they were the collateral damage of all of this. Instead of being rewarded with Fort Scott, a team who lost all KJCCC games by 41.7 points per game, they have to play Butler, a team who had won four consecutive games, the longest winning streak in the conference heading into to the playoff.
The Grizzlies will go on the road for the entirety of the playoffs. If Butler wins, they'll travel to Garden City or Dodge City next week. They'll be in a neutral game for the championship.