Cobb judge orders GHSA to hold eligibility hearings for Marietta football players

- A Cobb County judge has sided with three Marietta High School football players who want the chance to defend their eligibility to play.

Attorneys for Dawson Ellington, Rashad Torrence and Jalen Hardy filed a petition in Cobb County Superior Court last week asking a judge to order the Georgia High School Association to reconsider the players' status.  

"We're satisfied with the ruling," said Yari Lawson, an attorney who represents Ellington. "You know, two of the main issues that we raised on behalf of the student-athletes is that they were not afforded a fair process, because they were never notified in writing or otherwise of any violations of the GHSA bylaws and constitutions that they were responsible for." 

Earlier this year, the organization determined that Ellington and Torrence were not eligible to play in 2017 because while both of them had parents who worked for the school system, they did not work specifically at Marietta High School.  The school, therefore, had to vacate all its wins from last season.  

Hardy transferred to Marietta after the football season, but was also determined to be ineligible.  

Lawson said, however, that the students were not given an opportunity to answer to the allegations against them.  

"We argued that if you're gonna give the school due process, give them notice of allegations and the right to challenge those allegations, then you should certainly give it to the student-athletes," he explained.

Each of the students is a highly sought-after college football recruit and Lawson believes this issue is about much more than wins and losses. 

"There is definite value in having scholarship interest, scholarship offers and having division one schools willing to pay for your education to come to their campus," said Lawson.  

The GHSA did not respond to requests for comment on the ruling and there is no word on when they might schedule those eligibility hearings. 

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