The Goose Creek High School player ruled ineligible by the South Carolina High School League has filed a lawsuit seeking reinstatement to the team on the basis of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
The request for an emergency injunction, filed Wednesday morning, calls for the player, 18-year-old Justice Rogers, to be reinstated for the Nov. 23 scheduled playoff game the Gators have been disqualified from. Currently, that game is set to feature Northwestern and Bluffton, a team Goose Creek beat 35-25 last week.
According to the lawsuit, the SCHSL's ruling eliminates participation of student athletes considered fifth-year seniors "regardless of disabilities." The player's lawyers claim he qualifies for protective relief under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
The lawsuit states the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 exists to ensure that "no qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any such activity."
The lawsuit alleges the league's policies have evolved in a manner "that disregards a practical, subjective view to student-athletes with disabilities." Furthermore, the lawsuit alleges the SCHSL "appeared to narrowly constrict high school eligibility rules with disregard to federally mandated rules created by Congress relating to student athletes with disabilities.
The lawsuit also states no lawyer was present on the player's behalf during the initial hearing on Nov. 14 and that the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was not addressed during their ruling to disqualify the Gators.
Moss & Associates in Columbia is representing the player. When reached for comment, Attorney Jason Moss said, "The defendant in this matter did overlook the disability, or didn't factor it in, in making their decision on eligibility. We strongly believe they violated his rights under federal law, and that's why we've asked for this injunction."
A federal hearing on the injunction request is scheduled for Charleston County court at 2 p.m. Wednesday.
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