Ten weeks after Dakotah Euton and Chad Jackson were ruled ineligible to play basketball at Scott County, they enjoyed a reversal of fortune on Monday thanks to the Kentucky High School Athletic Association Board of Control.
The board voted unanimously to uphold a hearing officer's recommendations that Euton and Jackson, who transferred from Rose Hill Christian in Ashland, be eligible at Scott County.
Euton and Jackson, who were in attendance, immediately text-messaged their friends with the good news.
Euton, a 6-foot-8 junior who has committed to the University of Kentucky, said his reaction to the 16-0 vote was "relief, and joy that I get to play."
"Same for me," said Jackson, a 6-4 junior who is also a Division I prospect. "Now it's time to get to work."
Euton and Jackson transferred to Scott County late in the 2007-08 school year.
In mid-June, KHSAA commissioner Brigid DeVries sent letters to Scott County saying both players were ineligible.
Euton and Jackson appealed DeVries' ruling.
The appeals process involved presenting testimony and evidence to hearing officer Edmund "Pete" Karem, a retired Jefferson Circuit Judge.
Karem heard the cases separately, but he came to the same conclusion for both players: that their families had bona fide changes of address, that there was no evidence of "collusion" to transfer to Scott County, and that DeVries' ruling should be overturned by the Board of Control.
The board did just that, voting 16-0 in both cases to uphold Karem's opinion.
Board president Lonnie Burgett said the board studied the cases closely.
"I specifically asked each member to read these not once but twice," Burgett said.
"Based on what was absolutely written in black and white, (Euton and Jackson) met all the requirements to be eligible.
"We've overturned (hearing officers) on some occasion when we thought it should be done, but wasn't the case here."
DeVries said the system worked:
"Sometimes you're upheld; sometimes you're not.
"Many times (hearing officers) have a lot more information than I do initially. I support the process. It's fair to the students."
Clay Euton, Dakotah's father, lost his job in Ashland and took a new job with a Lexington company.
He admitted he shouldn't have made comments to newspaper reporters last spring about the strength of Scott County's basketball program and how it would help his son.
But he didn't think his mistake should cost his son his eligibility.
After Monday's ruling, Clay Euton said he was "just thankful to the Lord. He's answered a lot of our prayers.
"I'd like to thank all of the Board of Control members for seeing that we did nothing wrong whatsoever."
Joy Berry, Jackson's mother, moved to Georgetown for family reasons. Board member Jeff Schlosser said he took her story to heart while reading Karem's recommendation.
Berry said she was "cautiously optimistic" going into Monday's meeting. "I was hoping everything would turn out exactly the way it did."
Scott County assistant principal Joe Pat Covington also was pleased that Euton and Jackson will get to play for the Cardinals this season.
"They only get a chance to go through high school one time, so I'm happy they get to compete this year," he said.
"We followed the process, and feel like the ruling was the correct one."
Scott County has another transfer whose eligibility is still up in the air.
Austin Flannery, who played on the same AAU team as Jackson and Euton, transferred from Boone County to Scott County. He was also ruled ineligible by DeVries, but he appealed.
KHSAA hearing officer John Adams, a retired Fayette Circuit Judge, recommended that Flannery should be eligible, too.
The Board of Control will vote on Flannery's eligibility in late September.