The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association will uphold the one-game suspension levied to Gaithersburg football coach John Harvill, according to Executive Director Ned Sparks. The suspension will keep Harvill from the sideline Friday night, when the fourth-ranked Trojans (11-1) will play No. 5 Eleanor Roosevelt (11-1) in the Maryland 4A final at Byrd Stadium.
Harvill was ejected late in Friday's 13-0 semifinal victory over Severna Park for arguing an official's call. A one-game suspension is standard punishment in Maryland when a coach or player is ejected. Sparks called the penalty to Harvill a "one of those teachable moments" for players.
There is no appeal process.
"Those are the state Board of Education rules," Sparks said yesterday. "I've talked with John and the Gaithersburg principal [Fred S. Evans] and they support the rule. . . . This teaches a lesson to the kids. It makes me sick to my heart that this happened, but when you're confronted with one of these situations, you can't bend the rules because it's John Harvill."
In 43 years of coaching, Harvill, 74, never had been ejected before. It happened late in the game, when an official called the Trojans for an illegal formation, negating a touchdown. Harvill argued the call to a sideline official, who initially ignored him. When Harvill persisted, he was called for unsportsmanlike conduct and then ejected.
Sparks said that he received a detailed report of the incident from the officiating crew. Asked what Harvill did to draw the ejection, Sparks said: "After the 15-yard unsportsmanlike [penalty], I think John then had some choice words for the official."
Gaithersburg resident Sandy Minear, whose son, Andrew, was a center on the 1992 championship team, said yesterday that she has been in contact with at least six other parents of former and current Gaithersburg players who are planning to petition Sparks to reinstate Harvill, whom many parents believe may retire after this season.
"We support John," Minear said. ". . . I guess it does not surprise me that he would go by the decision, because he tries to instill ethics in his kids."
"The ejection was really excessive," said senior running back Jay Colbert, the school's all-time leading rusher. "All he was doing was pleading his case."