Taft High pitcher Nathan Voytek, whose string of shutout innings has set the Northwest Valley Conference on its ear, heard some bad news as he was removed from the practice field Monday afternoon by a school administrator.
The City Section has declared Voytek ineligible after an inquiry into his transfer from Pennsylvania showed the move violated state rules. Voytek, a right-hander who has not allowed a run in 28 consecutive innings and has four shutouts, played for the freshman team last season at Trinity High in Washington, Pa.
Voytek, who is 4-1 for the Toreadors, traveled to Woodland Hills last summer without his family and moved in with Larry Schneiderman, a coach Voytek met while playing in the 1989 Pony World Series. Schneiderman, who plans to appeal the decision, was manager of the Encino tournament entry.
City Section Commissioner Hal Harkness informed the school this week that because Voytek's parents did not accompany Voytek during his change of residence, Taft must forfeit each of the four victories in which Voytek appeared.
"It's (in violation of) the basic CIF transfer rule," Harkness said. "It's no fault of the kid. There has been a massive breakdown of the system."
Harkness said that in a transfer situation in which there is a change of guardianship, the athlete is ineligible for one season unless hardship is granted. Schneiderman, who has filed the necessary paper work but has not yet been designated Voytek's legal guardian, did not file a hardship appeal.
Voytek (5-foot-10, 160 pounds) has been suspended from the team pending an appeals hearing by the City rules committee, which Harkness said would convene "next week at the earliest."
"Anything is appealable," Harkness said. "(Schneiderman) will receive due process."
If the ruling is upheld, Taft will forfeit conference victories over San Fernando, Granada Hills and Cleveland. Voytek's victory over Venice in a Westside tournament game also would be subject to forfeit. With the forfeits, Taft would fall from 9-11 overall and 4-8 in league play to 5-15, 1-11.
Harkness said that while Voytek's transfer fell between Taft's administrative cracks--the school has had three different athletic directors over the past year--Toreador Coach Rich McKeon should have called the situation to someone's attention.
"The coach knew that the youngster was living with someone other than his parents," Harkness said. "But he didn't become any more inquisitive. The first level of enforcement is your own house.
"I'm not saying it was intentional, but he knew there were irregularities and he stopped looking."
McKeon said Tuesday that he has been instructed by Taft Principal Ron Berz to refuse comment.