Athletic director made the announcement Wednesday night in the wake of baseball ineligibility issue

HAMPSTEAD – Topsail High School athletic director Barry West is reportedly stepping down in the wake of an investigation into why the Topsail baseball team used an ineligible player, which cost them a chance to compete for a state championship.

West made the announcement Wednesday evening at a banquet honoring the school’s lacrosse team, according to coach Andy Copeland. Witnesses said West was emotional when he delivered the speech and told the crowd he wasn’t returning next year. It is unclear if he was fired or resigned.

“Nobody wins and nobody has won in this situation,” Copeland said.

West told the crowd the job wasn’t fun anymore.

“He has been doing this for a long time,” Copeland said. “He’s always said he does this for the kids. I could tell he was emotional about the situation. It was probably a tough thing."

Neither West nor Topsail principal Berry Simmons returned calls seeking comment.

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.

A school’s athletic director has the sole responsibility for checking eligibility, according to the Pender County Athletics manual. Coaches do not have access to a student’s grades, except for those enrolled in their classes.

Pender County Schools is reviewing all athletic procedures, according to spokeswoman Miranda Ferguson. She did not return calls or emails seeking comment about West’s resignation or the ongoing investigation.

Reporter Kevin Maurer can be reached at 910-343-2070 or Kevin.Maurer@GateHouseMedia.com.