Illinois parent accused of wearing referee uniform to son's playoff game to influence outcome, suit says

An Illinois father was accused in a lawsuit of dressing up in his referee uniform to influence calls during his son’s high school football playoff game and possibly putting a cloud over the championship.

Parents affiliated with Simeon Career Academy filed the lawsuit against the Illinois High School Association, the Chicago Tribune reported Monday. The suit comes less than a week after the school lost in a quarterfinal game against Nazareth Academy, according to the newspaper. Nazareth Academy then defeated Batavia High School to advance to the championship game.

The parent of a Nazareth player allegedly wore the referee uniform and was involved in calls the referees made during the game even though he wasn’t a part of the crew on Nov. 10. The father in question is accused of speaking to the officials in a spot where only referees are supposed to be, the Chicago Tribune reported, citing the lawsuit.

The father also allegedly took credit for doing “what was needed to make sure (Nazareth Academy) won,” the newspaper reported, citing screenshots from a Facebook thread. The father also allegedly said in a separate comment, “I didn’t make one bad call. I made sure the best team won.”

The parents who filed the lawsuit contend the father breached the high school association’s rules and have asked that no winner be declared as well as barring the father and the referees involved in the Nov. 10 from officiating any more games.

“I think it’s important that we stand up for these kids,” Shay Allen, an attorney representing the parents in the Simeon Academy’s lawsuit, told the Tribune. “They’ve worked hard. Sports are a metaphor for life. If you work hard at something, you should get a good result.”

The group would like to see Batavia High School move onto the championship game, Allen said.

There is no precedent for a case like this, but Allen told the Chicago Tribune, “evidence is overwhelming” that the parent had made calls to influence the game’s outcome.

The father in question wasn’t immediately identified. The IHSA also hasn’t commented on the lawsuit.