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Motion filed by player’s attorney

October 27, 2012
By Anthony Gaynor - Staff Writer ( , The Inter-Mountain

Elkins attorney Lori A. Gray filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and an application for a preliminary injunction Friday to have Elkins High School running back L.J. Lawrence reinstated to the football team.

Gray said the motions were filed in Randolph County Circuit Court around 4 p.m. The temporary restraining order aims to return Lawrence to the team immediately.

"It was done to protect the plaintiff and to grant him immediate relief," Gray told The Inter-Mountain Friday afternoon. "In this case if a hearing would be set after the final game, he could not play."

A hearing for the injunction has been set for 10 a.m. Nov. 2, a few hours before EHS will take the field against Lewis County High School.

Randolph County Circuit Court Judge Jaymie Godwin Wilfong recused herself from the hearing. Gray said Logan County Circuit Court Judge Roger L. Perry is taking the temporary restraining order under advisement and could issue a ruling on Monday.

The West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission ruled Wednesday that Lawrence, who is leading the state in rushing, is ineligible to play. Officials said the investigation was prompted by a complaint submitted from a resident in a neighboring county.

Gray is arguing that the WVSSAC's ruling was illegal, because it was based on Lawrence allegedly violating a commission rule that states: "Any student residing with a guardian/custodian may not compete for a school in any sport on the varsity level."

"He is 18 years old and not required to have a guardian, which completely negates the rule they (WVSSAC) cited," Gray said.

The motion also alleges that the WVSSAC rule may be challenged on the grounds that it exceeds constitutional or statutory authority.

Gray also contends Lawrence was denied his right to due process because he was not given an opportunity to be heard prior to the WVSSAC revoking his eligibility and revoking his team's wins on the season.

According to Gray's motion, the WVSSAC is in contradiction and violation of the federal McKinney-Vento Act of 2002, which establishes immediate residency for the purpose of attending school for a student who meets the definition of homeless.

"The Randolph County Board of Education permitted him to play as an eligible student athlete based upon the fact that he met the requirements to be considered homeless under the McKinney-Vento Act," the motion states.

In the motion, Gray alleges that if the WVSSAC is permitted to proceed with it's actions, Lawrence will suffer "immediate and irreparable harm" because his team record and his personal statistics will be vacated, causing harm in any endeavor to further his education with the assistance of an athletic scholarship.

"James Lawrence does not have the economic resources to afford a college education," the complaint states. "It is likely that due to his athletic ability, he may be offered athletic scholarships. This may not occur if his entire football statistics are vacated as the WVSSAC has done."



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