Western Albemarle football cited for rules violation

Western Albemarle’s football program was cited Monday by the Virginia High School League Monday for a violation of the VHSL’s out-of-season practice rule.

The penalties the program incurs are a VHSL warning, a fine, a reduction in the “allowable practice days to the minimal 15 at the start of the 2011 season” and a reduction in the “number of allowable scrimmages/jamborees” the team may participate in to one.

“The violations occurred in connection with two dates when coaches unintentionally violated rules pertaining to  ‘open gyms’ as defined within the Virginia High School League’s Out-of Season Practice Rule,” said Western Albemarle athletic director Steve Heon. “We consider this an inadvertent mistake and are moving forward.”

The VHSL Executive Committee did recently pass a change to the Out-of-Season practice rule (Rule 27-8-1). The new policy essentially lifts a number of restrictions on out of season practice and clarifies the rule, restricting practice only through a select few dead periods. The membership upheld the Executive Committee’s decision at the March 11 group membership meeting, but it will not go into effect until August 1.

The VHSL, unlike the NCAA, doesn’t have an investigative/enforcement branch. That means every school must self-report an official violation, which Western did. The VHSL referred comment on the Western violation to the school principal and Heon, but did praise Western’s efforts during the reporting process.

“Western Albemarle’s conduct was exemplary in how it reported the violation and in its cooperation with VHSL staff throughout the entire process,” communications specialist Mike McCall wrote in an email Monday.