Updated with more information at 5:55 p.m. on Oct 19, 2019.
Notre Dame High School has reported its football program to the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association for playing an ineligible athlete, and the penalties for the Fighting Irish included forfeiting their only two wins this year.
The ineligible freshman competed in the team's first seven games, including a 27-6 win over Central in the Aug. 23 season opener and a 25-13 victory at Silverdale Baptist Academy on Sept. 6, but he did not play in Friday's loss to Chattanooga Christian. Central and Silverdale are now credited with 1-0 wins.
"The day all of this came to our attention we reported ourselves on Thursday morning," coach Charles Fant said. "It was all based on a kid who was an eighth-grader and his family wanted to reclassify him, so they held him out from going to high school so he repeated the eighth grade through home school.
"He played on the middle school basketball team for the Chattanooga Patriots, and because they played other middle schools that made him ineligible for his entire freshman year for sports. The parents had no idea, we had no idea. We immediately sent it in to the TSSAA."
The student spent his first eighth-grade year at Boyd Buchanan.
Notre Dame must also pay a $250 fine to the TSSAA and send letters to the schools the ineligible athlete played against to notify them of the infraction. No further disciplinary action will be taken against the athletic program, according to a letter sent to the school by the TSSAA.
"We want to commend the administration at Notre Dame High School on the manner in which this situation has been handled," TSSAA assistant executive director Gene Menees said in his letter to the school.
The Irish, who have been plagued by injuries to key players this year, will miss the playoffs for the first time since going 1-9 in 2010. They compiled a 67-22 record the past seven seasons, a span in which they won three region championships (2014, '17, '18) and advanced to the state semifinals twice, including their 2017 playoff run in which they finished as Division II-AA runners-up.
Notre Dame will finish its season Friday with a DII-AA East Region game at Boyd Buchanan (7-1, 3-1), which along with Chattanooga Christian (4-3, 3-1) has already locked up a playoff spot.
"Even if we did not forfeit those games, we were not going to make the playoffs," Fant said. "Only five teams go this year in our region. With us turning ourselves in we knew we had to beat CCS and Boyd Buchanan to have a chance. But that didn't matter because Boyd beat CAK and CCS beat us."