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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | HIGH SCHOOL NOTEBOOK

Granting of Fifth Season for Player Prompts Inquiries

September 19, 2000|STEVE HENSON

The fifth season of eligibility granted Donnell Livingston, a Sylmar High defensive back and running back, has coaches and athletic directors from rival schools flooding City Section administrators with queries.

We want a fifth year for some of our players too, they say. How did Livingston get this approved?

Jeff Halpern, the administrator who fields the calls, is taking the fifth.

"There is confidential medical and student information that won't be divulged," he said. "The decision was based on hardship."

In 1998, Livingston was severely injured in the third game and missed the rest of the season. He did not graduate in four years and turned 18 on Aug. 2. If he was 19 or had graduated, his appeal certainly would have been denied.

However, rival coaches recognize a loophole. If a player is 18 and missed a season because of injury, can he fail classes intentionally in order to gain another year of eligibility?

"We aren't talking about somebody holding back and failing on their own," Halpern said. "Some of the calls I've gotten want to cite this case as precedent like a lawsuit. It doesn't work that way. Every case is different. If another school has a similar situation, they are welcome to present their argument to the Rules Committee."

Livingston, meanwhile, will suit up for the first time this season Friday night when Sylmar plays at El Camino Real.

*

Give him a hand. Taft running back Lee Marks is a tough player.

Marks fractured his right hand in the second half of the Toreadors' 41-30 victory over Locke on Friday. Not only did he finish the game, Marks intercepted two passes, had three receptions, rushed for 141 yards and scored two touchdowns.

And despite wearing a cast, he doesn't plan on sitting out this week against Jefferson either.

"The doctor did not limit his activity," said Denise Marks, Lee's mother. "He wants to play and I'm sure he will."

Without Marks, a senior, Taft's running game would be hurting. He has 235 of the team's 249 rushing yards.

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