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Suspensions Upheld for N.J. Youth Football Players

When Wayne Hills (N.J.) High School's football team takes the field for the state championship game tomorrow night, don't expect to see the nine high school football players who sued the district earlier in the week over suspensions stemming from an out-of-school fight.

After a state judge ruled Thursday to uphold the suspensions, the final decision rested with state education Commissioner Christopher Cerf. The players' lawyers were not optimistic that Cerf would overturn the judge's decision, according to The Record.

As it turned out, the players' lawyers had reason to be skeptical.

Cerf issued a statement today explaining that he would uphold the suspensions, banning the players' from playing in the state title game tomorrow.

Cerf agreed with the judge's ruling that the players did not satisfy all prongs of Crowe v. DeGioia, and thus, he denied the request to have their suspensions temporarily lifted.

The judge did agree with the players' lawyers' argument that holding the students out from the championship game could cause irreparable harm. The missing players will be easily identifiable, which could have negative effects on their chances of landing a college scholarship, the lawyers argued.

However, the players did not prove that "the legal right underlying their claim is well settled, that they have a likelihood of success on the merits of their underlying appeal, and that the balance of interests and equities under the circumstances rests in their favor," the judge ruled.

Commissioner Cerf's decision can be appealed in Superior Court, according to The Record, although the players' lawyers were doubtful that the case could be heard in time for the 7 p.m. kickoff tomorrow.

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