By Ian Perrotta
In a stunning setback, the Hamtramck Cosmos football team has been forced to forfeit their first three wins.
The Cosmos had won three out of four games so far, an amazing comeback for a team that has gone through five to six seasons without a single win.
On Wednesday, Hamtramck Schools Superintendent Tom Niczay sent out an email announcing the action.
“After an internal, self-initiated investigation it was discovered that the 2009 Cosmos football team had an ineligible player,” Niczay said in his e-mail. “The discovery was reported to the Michigan High School Athletic Association.”
Though the infraction is somewhat serious, it was not intentional. A player was found to be in his ninth semester of enrollment, a violation of Michigan High School Association’s eight-semester eligibility standard for participation in sports. Because of a change of schools by the player, a discrepancy in his transcripts initially made him appear eligible.
The mistake was realized during a weekly check of player eligibility. After realizing the error, Athletic Director Adam Mused took the appropriate action to rectify the situation, including notifying the MHSAA. As a result, only the games already played will have to be forfeited. The rest of the scheduled games will be played and will count.
While disappointed with the season’s drastic turn of events, Head Coach Tarif Kumasi was still optimistic about the team’s chances for making the playoffs. Accepting the sanctions of the MHSAA, he stressed the integrity of the team and its cooperation with officials.
“We run a clean program,” said Head Coach Tarif Kumasi, “and that’s how we want to keep it.”
Earlier in the week, the Cosmos had plenty to celebrate. Their game last Friday was an amazing come-from-behind win over the B.H. Cranbrook Cranes.
After trailing for most of the game, the Cosmos (0-4, 0-1) made a defensive stand in the fourth quarter and rallied from a three-touchdown deficit to beat the Cranes in the final minutes of the game.
The forfeited games also mean that quarterback Omar Thabet’s rank as the state’s top passer is nullified.
Despite the reversal, Head Coach Kumasi said the players are focused on winning.
“We’ve got tough competitive players and we can get past this,” Kumasi said.
The Cosmos play today (Friday, Sept. 25) at Keyworth Stadium against Harper Woods. It’s the high school’s Homecoming as well. The game starts at 7 p.m.