Laguna Beach High School's football team, off to its best start since 1979 with a 4-1 record, will forfeit three victories for using an eligible player.
The Artists will forfeit nonleague victories over Buena Park and Elsinore and a Sea View League victory over Costa Mesa after it was discovered that first-year Coach Cedrick Hardman was using a 14-year-old sophomore lineman in varsity games.
Laguna Beach violated Article 14 of the California Interscholastic Federation Constitution, By-Laws and Rulings which reads: "A student shall not be allowed to play on the varsity football team until the student has reached the student's 15th birthday."
Hardman, a former player for the San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland Raiders, reportedly discovered the ineligible player last week, and the player did not participate in the Artists' 20-13 win over University last Friday night.
Neither Dr. Anthony S. Ortega, Laguna Beach principal, nor Dr. Bill J. Barnes, Laguna Beach Unified School District superintendent, would comment Wednesday. Barnes said a press release would be issued today following an announcement to the school's teaching staff and students.
Officials at the CIF Southern Section office also declined to comment, saying that they were waiting a report from Laguna Beach High.
The three forfeitures is the latest in a series of problems that has beset Laguna Beach High's athletic department.
Last season, seven of the school's 11 full-time coaches resigned their positions, citing a lack of support from the district, an influx of walk-on coaches and the inability to continue to operate their programs on a competitive level because of a lack of funds.
Two weeks ago, Walter J. Hamera, former athletic director, filed a $1-million libel suit against the district and three of its board members. Hamera is asking for $550,000 in general damages and $500,000 in punitive action.
Hamera, 40, claims the defendants, which include Board of Education President Janet S. Vickers and school members Carl E. Schwarz and Charlene Ragatz, "circulated a statement to all principals and athletic directors in Orange County falsely stating that (Hamera) failed to disclose the receipt of illegal payments by athletic coaches."
The suit also said "this statement exposed (Hamera) to contempt, ridicule, obloquy and tended directly to injure (Hamera) in respect to his profession as a teacher . . . "