Ongoing investigation involves baseball player deemed ineligible
HAMPSTEAD – The head coach of the Topsail High School baseball team met Monday with Pender County Schools Superintendent Steven Hill as part of an ongoing investigation into why the team used an ineligible player, which cost them a chance to compete for a state championship.
Pender County Schools is reviewing all athletic procedures, according to spokeswoman Miranda Ferguson. Hill met with coach Aaron Rimer Monday morning, according to sources familiar with the meetings. It is unclear what was discussed.
"Pender County Schools Superintendent Dr. Steven Hill continues to investigate this matter with the assistance of Human Resources and Organizational Development," Ferguson said in an email Monday. "There is no timeline as to when this investigation will be complete."
Ferguson did not return calls and emails seeking comment on Monday’s meetings and if Topsail principal Berry Simmons or athletic director Barry West also met with Hill. As of Monday afternoon, Rimer did not return calls seeking comment.
Monday's meeting comes after some of the players’ parents asked Hill to meet with them as part of the county’s investigation. Julie Cota, whose son is a junior on the team, said parents wanted a chance to share their concerns in private instead of during an open meeting in front of the school board.
“We want a seat at the table,” Cota said. “We want to have our concerns heard in a more in-depth manner.”
Cota said Hill’s office agreed to meet with parents after his review is done, but the parents want their information included in the ongoing investigation.
“We want some reassurance that the people that were responsible for this will be held accountable,” Cota said. “We don’t want this to get swept under the rug.”
The Pender County Athletics manual states a school’s athletic director has the sole responsibility for checking eligibility. Coaches do not have access to a student’s grades, except for those enrolled in their classes.
Pender County Schools confirmed earlier this month that the team violated the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s eligibility regulations. Alex Postma, a senior plagued with debilitating anxiety and who is non-verbal, was deemed ineligible. The Pirates were forced to forfeit 16 wins in which he was in uniform, turning their on-field record of 17-6 to 1-22.
Chris Holland, father of senior pitcher Alex Holland, said while the players will eventually move on, he wants to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“I don’t know who did anything wrong,” Holland said. “But none of the kids did anything wrong and they’re the only ones who have taken any punishment and it was awfully steep.”
Reporter Kevin Maurer can be reached at 910-343-2070 or Kevin.Maurer@GateHouseMedia.com.