WINFIELD - Four high school softball coaches in Putnam County have filed a lawsuit against the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission over a rule that states high school softball players may only play in 32 games during the regular season.

Chuck Slater of Winfield High School, Darrell Moore of Buffalo High School, Josh Caldwell of Poca High School and Ben Cobb of Hurricane High School filed the lawsuit March 28 in Putnam Circuit Court after receiving a letter from WVSSAC Executive Director Mike Hayden that stated players would not be allowed to participate in more than 32 games.

Teams are already limited to 32, but some players split time between the varsity and junior varsity teams and exceed 32 games played.

The coaches filed a petition for a temporary and permanent injunction because, they say, the new rule was not lawfully adopted.

"Especially with regard to (Class) AA and A schools or other smaller schools, student participation on both the varsity and junior varsity teams, at least to be able to field both teams, has been required and a common practice for many, many years," the petition states.

In a letter dated March 3 sent to all principals, athletic directors and baseball and softball coaches, hayden wrote, "this office is asking that you stop the practice of allowing players to participate in more contests than allowed."

Attorney James Dodrill, who is representing the coaches, responded with a letter dated March 10 that stated, "your new interpretation is not founded anywhere in the rules, law or common sense.

"Your new interpretation… will result in some athletes missing out on their chosen sports."

William Wooton, the WVSSAC attorney, fired back with a letter that argued the WVSSAC has the power to enforce emergency rules because it is a private, voluntary association of schools, not a state agency.

Judge Ed Eagloski has been assigned the case.

Putnam Circuit Court case number 06-C-99

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