CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Myers Park High School's football program is forfeiting its 2021-22 season after the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) found fraudulent documents were used for school enrollment and athlete eligibility for the varsity team.
In a letter sent to parents, principal Robert Folk said the school was made aware of the fake documents in January 2022 and investigated. The school then self-reported its findings to the NCHSAA.
NCHSAA commissioner Marilyn Que Tucker then ruled Myers Park was in violation of association rules for using an ineligible player based on residence requirements. The school appealed the ruling, saying the proof of student enrollment and eligibility was not evident until it was reported in January. The NCHSAA's Board of Directors heard the appeal but ultimately denied it.
As part of the ruling, Myers Park will not only forfeit their season but will also return $6,700 earned from playoff games. The school will also pay a $250 fine.
"It is my intention to lead with integrity and not deception. I will say the same about the athletic programs of Myers Park High School," Folk closed in his letter. "The result of the NCHSAA ruling is disappointing for our players, coaches and certainly our Myers Park school community. We will maintain our integrity as a school and will always do what is ethical and fair."
Folk said questions could be directed to him or to athletic director Brian Poore.
WCNC Charlotte reached out to Myers Park High School for further comment and details about what exactly happened that led to the investigation. Folk reached back out to confirm the NCHSAA ruled the team had ineligible players participate in games during the 2021-22 season. However, Folk said the procedure the association used in their ruling wasn't applicable to what Myers Park found out.
Folk said the procedure the NCHSAA selected from the handbook claims Myers Park intentionally had the players compete. However, Folk said the appeal he made with a different procedure was on the grounds the parents or guardians of the athletes falsified the documents in question. He said the school would have still paid a fine if the appeal was successful, but would not have forced the team to forfeit its 2021 season.
"Those are the facts and it is disappointing to us," Folk said. "I chose to lead with integrity and we received the same outcome as a school who intentionally played ineligible players and was reported."
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WCNC Charlotte was aware that the most recent head football coach at Myers Park, Curtis Fuller, had recently left his post for a new job as the safeties coordinator at Texas A&M University-Commerce, about 65 miles northeast of Dallas. His departure in March 2022 happened after the investigation began in January 2022.
We reached out to the university and its athletic department for more information, and were provided with this statement from Fuller:
I was afforded an opportunity to return to college football at Texas A&M University-Commerce in early March 2022. It has always been one of my dreams and goals to coach at a D1 program in Texas, and I am honored to serve a respected university. A key part of the decision to accept this position was my relationship with A&M-Commerce head football coach David Bailiff, which dates back to my time at TCU.
My departure from Myers Park in early March was in no way tied to the recent news from their athletics program. To my knowledge, all proper steps in the certification process were followed for the student-athletes to compete last season. My time at Myers Park was filled with many positive memories and joyful times as head football coach. It was a privilege to lead their football program.
Fuller, a former NFL safety, played for the Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers, Tenessee Titans, Carolina Panthers, and the Arizona Cardinals. His 2010 season with the Packers ended with a win during Super Bowl XLV. Before coaching at Myers Park, Fuller had already left the field and served as an assistant coach for the Panthers. However, Fuller left the Panthers in 2018 amid a team investigation into alleged inappropriate conduct.