Autistic Brick HS football player denied eligibility

Rules prevent players who are over 18 and have played for eight semesters to continue playing.

Rules prevent players who are over 18 and have played for eight semesters to continue playing. (3/15/13)

BRICK - An autistic high school football player in Brick is being denied eligibility to play another year with his team, due to a rule that prevents players from participating in more than eight semesters of play.

Anthony Starego has been dealing with emotions that range from anger to frustration after learning that the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) ruled he can not play this fall.

Click here to read the NJSIAA's full statement

Rules set forth by the association prohibit students from playing high school sports if they are over 18 years old and have played for eight semesters.

Anthony's parents pleaded with officials arguing that that his disability and his need for routine should be considered. Their son has two years of high school remaining.

The association said that allowing Anthony to play would give the Brick High School football team an unfair advantage. “This young man brings a high degree of skill to the game," the association says. "He is a physically mature young man with college-level kicking skills. He is a strong competitor and a difference-maker. His participation gives the school an advantage against other teams. In the end, the committee determined that, among other things, the student did not qualify for a waiver because he has already played four years, he’s a difference-maker on the field, and would displace another student on the team."

He will still be allowed to practice with the team, but he will not be allowed to play in games.

The family plans to appeal the decision to the state commissioner of education. 

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