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Sheyenne Mustang boys soccer team determined ineligible to compete in state tournament

It was discovered that an ineligible student competed throughout the season, resulting in forfeiture of completed matches.

The West Fargo Sheyenne High School boys soccer team will no longer be competing in the state tournament later this week.

Sheyenne administration notified the North Dakota High School Activities Association that it was discovered an ineligible student had been competing throughout the entirety of the season. As a result, all previous matches where the student participated must be forfeited.

Beth Slette is Superintendent of West Fargo Public Schools. In a statement to reporters, she said unfortunately, there is not an easy answer as for why this wasn’t discovered earlier.

"Our current process requires staff to manually confirm each area of eligibility across multiple systems for each one of more than one thousand student athletes at Sheyenne High School. It is important to note that eligibility refers to multiple criteria - it is not just academic grades. When this process needs to be done for a significant number of participants that we have, errors are unfortunately possible."

Last year, West Fargo Public Schools replaced all of its high school activities directors with one district-wide activities director. Logan Midthun is in his first year in that position, and calls the situation heartbreaking. He says his job now is to put systems in place to prevent this from ever happening again.

"Through initial conversations with the director of technology and other members of our technology department, I'm confident that there are ways we can automate the eligibility monitoring process to ensure that issues are caught in a timely fashion with as little impact to learners as possible. While these automated systems are built and tested, all of our coaches and activities staff are committed to ensuring comprehensive and ongoing monitoring of all participants to prevent this type of incident from ever happening again."

In 2020, the Sheyenne Mustangs played its junior varsity team in the state semi-finals when 23 varsity players could not continue in the tournament due to COVID-19 exposure.

As a result of the forfeitures, Shanley High School will now be competing in the state tournament. It runs this Thursday through Saturday in West Fargo.