NIAA ruling opens door for mass appeals

Steve Puterski

Steve Puterski

Livid. Angry. Furious.

These are just a select few adjectives of Fallon boys soccer coach Nate Waite’s reaction to the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association’s latest ruling.

The NIAA on Monday ruled to replay the Fallon-Spring Creek match on Tuesday after an officiating blunder during their Oct. 18 match in Spring Creek, according to NIAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine.

A Spartans player was ejected at halftime for arguing with an official. But, according to Bonine, the official ruled Spring Creek must play a man down the rest of the game. The Spartans were leading 4-2 at the break, but lost 5-4.

Numerous sources from Fallon said that was not the case. They contend it was the failure of Spring Creek coach Leaf Knotts that led to Spring Creek playing man down.

It was Knott’s responsibility to substitute another player into the match because the player was not on the field and thus the Spartans would not be required to play a man down, but Knotts failed to do so.

Regardless, the created problem opens Pandora’s Box. Bonine said another game several years ago was replayed after an appeal during one of the state tournaments.

This match, though, decided the playoff fates of Fallon and Spring Creek. Fallon must tie or win to clinch, Spring Creek must win. It ended in a 1-1 tie.

Bonine said Fallon was awarded an unfair advantage. Depends on who is to be believed, Spring Creek’s appeal or Fallon’s contention the coach made the mistake.

However, the problem is they should not replay the game.

Appeals will flood the NIAA office for every rules misinterpretation, no matter how big or small. Every coach and school will scream for a redo because they felt slighted by the official(s).

How about the mysterious handball called against Fallon at Elko that led to an Indians victory? Or any call in any sport where the officials rule incorrectly, which directly leads to any “advantage?” Will those be heard? Not a chance.

Will any officials be reprimanded not knowing the rules? Probably not.

In addition, the ruling lets the player off the hook for challenging an official. That cannot be tolerated at any level.

It’s an unfortunate side of sports, where players and coaches must deal with the how an official interprets the rules.

A paper-thin case because a coach made a mistake is not worthy of a successful appeal.

Bonine said he waited 15 days to rule to see how the playoff picture develops. An honest statement, but the incorrect call.

If a call is so egregious, why wait? Sure, the postseason is important, but is “fair play” less important to teams who have no chance to qualify but have a legitimate case?

Are they just tossed out without a shred of concern for the players who were robbed?

Fans, coaches and players are told time and again officials make “judgement” calls. A bad call happens every week at every level.

It’s a tough pill to swallow, but the NIAA just let Spring Creek of the hook.

Steve Puterski is the sports editor for the Lahontan Valley News and can be contacted at


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