KUSA - Nathan Starks, a standout running back for Cherry Creek, finally has been granted eligibility to play football after going through an appeal process with CHSAA.
"God always does me right. So thankful to say #24 will be on the field starting this Friday! Lets go get this ring," Starks tweeted.
CHSAA released the following statement on their website: "Nathan Starks, a student at Cherry Creek High School, has been granted eligibility to play football immediately following a ruling by an arbitrator during a binding arbitration hearing. Starks went through the three-step CHSAA Appeals process prior to arbitration. The appeal has been previously denied by the Commissioner, a three appeals panel and the CHSAA Board of Directors. Starks is eligible to participate immediately."
Nathan's attorney, Dan Caplis, released this statement: "What the CHSAA Commissioner did to Nathan was outrageous and cruel. It should never be allowed to happen to any other student. Nathan is an outstanding young man who in my opinion was wrongfully singled out, stereotyped and discriminated against by the CHSAA Commissioner. The evidence in this case shows that the CHSAA Commissioner rushed to judgment and ruled Nathan ineligible for the entire year before he gathered the facts from Nathan's family, Cherry Creek High School or Bishop Gorman High School.
When he declared Nathan ineligible in June, the CHSAA Commissioner wrote that Nathan's move "is clearly motivated by athletic reasons." That was a false and disparaging allegation.
At the time he made the allegation the Commissioner had not gathered the facts from Nathan's family, Bishop Gorman High School, or Cherry Creek High School. Yesterday during the arbitration CHSAA conceded for the first time that this was not an athletically motivated move.
Would any reasonable person believe that CHSAA first came to that conclusion yesterday? The entire Centennial League looked at the facts this summer and unanimously voted to allow Nathan eligibility. In my opinion the CHSAA Commissioner was willing to rob Nathan of his senior year of high school football, and jeopardize Nathan's college opportunities, just so the Commissioner didn't have to admit that he was wrong.
The CHSAA Commissioner has unnecessarily put Nathan and his mother through an agonizing gauntlet of hearings and appeals, unfairly disparaged them, and taken away games and experiences that Nathan will never get back.
This must never be allowed to happen to any other student. There needs to be an investigation conducted by the Colorado State Legislature, federal authorities or both. Colorado law needs to be changed so that students who are wrongly stripped of their eligibility can go straight to a neutral arbitrator, rather than being forced to burn most of their season going through CHSAA's internal appeals process. You'd have a better chance of getting a fair hearing in the Iranian justice system than in the CHSAA appeals process.
Also, the legislature needs to outlaw the type of by-law that CHSAA has that makes it practically impossible for students wronged by CHSAA to go to Court get an injunction allowing them to play. The CHSAA by-law says that if the Court orders CHSAA to let you play, and that decision is later reversed by another Court, then your team forfeits all of the games you played in. Nathan was not willing to put his team at risk like that, as most kids wouldn't. So CHSAA has effectively taken away a student's ability to ask a Court to step in and correct CHSAA abuses in time.
The persecution of Nathan Starks by the CHSAA Commissioner is a dark spot in Colorado high school sports history. I will be happy to share the facts in more detail. There is an important story here that needs to be told. This must never happen again."
Cherry Creek is currently ranked No. 5 in the state and has three games remaining on its schedule.
Starks will make his debut as a Bruin on Friday when Cherry Creek plays Smoky Hill at 4 p.m. at the Stutler Bowl.
Click the video above to hear what Starks had to say about the decision.
The lawyer's statement was amended on Oct. 11 at 11:45 a.m.
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