Penn Wood's Futch suspended from state meet

Posted: May 24, 2012

The PIAA track and field championships will be without one of the state's premier athletes this weekend at Shippensburg University.

Eric Futch, a senior at Penn Wood, has been suspended from the event after a disqualification for unsportsmanlike conduct Saturday at the District 1 championships at Coatesville.

Futch was disqualified from the district meet by director Harry Lewis after a verbal confrontation with two members of the awards staff. Per PIAA rules under Article 13, an athlete penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct is not permitted to participate in the next scheduled event of the same level of competition.

There are limited bases for appeal in cases of "judgment decisions," as the PIAA cites under Article 13. One is a misidentification of an athlete in levying a penalty. The other is a misapplication of a rule.

"Penn Wood did make a request on behalf of Eric to make the protest that there was a misapplication of the rule and that was received in this office, but was denied because there was no misapplication," PIAA assistant executive director Mark Byers said Wednesday.

The PIAA reviewed the disqualification report provided by District 1 and whether the individual submitting the report, Harry Lewis, was within his jurisdiction in making the decision.

Futch, as ordered by Penn Wood coach Lenny Jordan, sought shade under the only tent on the Coatesville infield after winning the 300-meter hurdles championship in record time Saturday.

Despite the presence of other athletes who occupied the area after races and before receiving medals at a nearby podium throughout the day, Futch was told to exit the area by Radnor girls' track coach Christine Dixon-Anderson and Charles Lewis, two award staff members. Futch exchanged words with the officials and then vacated the area.

Less than an hour later, after Futch won the 200 dash, again breaking a meet record, Futch approached Charles Lewis.

"Once I got done the 200, I was just jogging around," Futch said, "but there were just a lot of people under the tent. I felt as though I had to get this off my chest.

"I walked over and was like, 'Well, all these people are under the tent and you're not telling them to get [out] from under there.' Once I said it, I kept walking and then [Charles Lewis] said, 'Yeah, they can be under there but you can't come under here.' "

Charles Lewis on Wednesday denied Futch's claims that he allowed other athletes and not Futch in the awards tent. He also said the confrontation that Futch described occurred away from the tent, elsewhere on the infield. At that point, Charles Lewis relayed the matter to Harry Lewis.

"I went to the meet director and said, 'We need to get him off the field. He's creating a problem," Charles Lewis said. "That's where it ended with me."

Soon after, Coatesville police escorted Futch from the meet as Harry Lewis hit him with the unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty.

"If I had any idea all that would happen, I don't know what I would have done," Charles Lewis said, lamenting that Futch had been banned from the state meet because of the incident.

"I just thought they were going to ask him to leave the stadium, which I asked them to do. But he did not cooperate with the other guys, which is why I think they did what they did."

A receptionist at the District 1 office said Harry Lewis was on vacation and unable to be reached for comment.

Contact Evan Burgos at

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