By Jeff Todd
AURORA, Colo. (CBS4)– An Aurora family is questioning the hardship waiver process for high school student athletes after their own child’s football season is in doubt.
“I’ve played football my whole life and to know that I can’t play the first five games in the last year of high school is really disappointing to me,” said Eric Jenkins, who is starting his senior year at Eaglecrest High School.
Eric was hoping to play on defense and special teams.
Right now Jenkins is abiding by the Colorado High School Activities Association transfer rules which require an athlete to sit out 50 percent of the season. But Jenkins and his parents think they have a valid claim for a hardship waiver.
Last July Eric’s parents were in the back of a taxi when it got into an accident. They were both injured. Scott Jenkins was physically unable to work and didn’t have health insurance. Bills, the mortgage, utilities and car payments started to pile up. The Jenkins filed for bankruptcy and moved Eric from a private school in Parker to the high school near their house because they couldn’t afford the tuition any longer.
“We’ve lost a lot of stuff, and it hasn’t been our choice to lose it,” Eric says.
The Jenkins have been working with the administration at Eaglecrest to get a hardship waiver to CHSAA, which they say has been denied.
“There’s nothing else we can give them that they haven’t asked for that proves it’s a hardship case,” said Scott, who gave CHSAA medical forms and even his W-2 to prove their case. “Opening up our personal life like we are right now which is embarrassing. There’s nothing else we can give them that they haven’t asked for that proves it’s a hardship case.”
CHSAA told CBS4 hardship cases are reviewed for situations that are unforeseen, unavoidable, or uncorrectable.
Scott says he spoke with the head of CHSAA Paul Angelico.
“His exact words were, ‘When you put your kid in private school you can foresee pulling him out for financial reasons.’ My response was no, this never crossed my mind. I said, ‘Well is there an appeals process?’ He said, ‘No, you are out of appeals. This is our final decision.’”
CHSAA told CBS4 in an email, “The waiver has been sent back to the school and it is in their hands as to how they or the family will proceed under the CHSAA process that we discussed yesterday. We cannot comment further because it is still an active waiver.”
The Jenkins say they’re going to continue to do whatever they can to make sure Eric can be on the field with his teammates on Sept. 1.
Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he’s been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.