The parents of a star high school quarterback suspended for Friday's championship game are suing the Minnesota State High School League.
Sam Backer, the starting quarterback for the Chatfield Gophers varsity football team, was called for two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties during the team's 22-18 semifinals win over Barnesville last week. Per MSHSL rules, that resulted in Backer being ejected from the game — and suspended for the following contest.
In this case, that happens to be the Class AA state championship game against West Central Area/Ashby at U.S. Bank Stadium this Friday at 1 p.m.
On Tuesday, Backer's parents filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court, arguing the high school league's actions are "unconstitutional" and demanding Backer be allowed to play in the finals. They're also asking for monetary damages in an amount to be determined.
Their protest boils down to a lack of a review process, with the plaintiffs writing:
"Under Minnesota law, interscholastic sports participation is a constitutionally protected property right included as part of a student’s right to an education, which cannot be taken away without due process," the suit says. Because the MSHSL doesn't have a way to quickly appeal the calls, Backer is being "denied a constitutionally protected property right without due process."
The referees called two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on Backer, one in the second quarter and one in the third, the lawsuit states. But the junior "disagrees" with the conclusions, saying he was not the instigator. With regard to the second call, Backer's actions (which aren't described in the lawsuit) "were a reaction to the twisting of his ankle to protect his own safety."
The suit asks for a review from a neutral third-party to determine if the calls were accurate. But given it is Thanksgiving week and the game is mere days away, they are asking the court to issue an injunction that would prevent the MSHSL from enforcing Backer's suspension until the case is fully resolved.
Post Bulletin reporter Guy Limbeck got a quote from the Chatfield head coach after the game:
"As a direct and proximate cause of the action or inactions of the MSHSL, SB has suffered significant social, emotional, and educational harm and has been damaged in an amount to be determined at trial," the suit says.
A motion hearing was set for noon Wednesday.
Bring Me The News has reached out to the MSHSL for comment.