The Peachtree City Little League All-Star team that won the Georgia state title didn't do anything wrong this all-star season but did violate two regular-season rules it wasn't aware of, according to league president Brandon Taylor.
Taylor told the Ledger-Enquirer that Peachtree City "rostered too many 12 year olds on a team during the regular season." Rules state you can't have more than eight 12 year olds on a regular-season team.
"There was a rule that we missed and our District 4 administrator Linda North missed and the Southern Region coordinator Jen Colvin missed when they approved our paperwork," Taylor said.
"Shortly before this weekend's tournament, Little League went back and looked and we had a rule violation. Our position has been that we didn't realize that. It was unintentional. I think the folks at Little League would agree it was an innocent error and unintentional, but it's a rule violation."
Taylor said he had to call his team at a pep rally Thursday night and inform them they couldn't go to the Southeastern Regional tournament.
In its place, Columbus' Northern Little League All-Stars, who lost to Peachtree City in the state championship game, will participate in Friday's opening ceremonies and face North Carolina Saturday night at 7.
Taylor took exception to Little League telling the Ledger-Enquirer his league violated the rule concerning background screenings.
Brian McClintock, director of media relations for Little League, emailed the paper Friday morning and said Peachtree broke three rules, one that stated all volunteers — board members, managers, coaches or any anyone else that provides regular service to the league or that has access to the league or its players — must submit an application. Also annual background screenings must be done on each applicant. The rule also spells out the role for each of those volunteers.
"We background check every single individual involved in any way with every team," Taylor said. "We literally do hundreds of background checks."
The third rule Little League says Peachtree City violated concerned its two additional coaches during the regular season. According to Taylor, Little League rules say every regular-season roster must have one manager and two official coaches. His league didn't list the two additional coaches.
"We have a manager but didn't put down the two additional official coaches because we have pilots and managers who can't be there all the time," Taylor said. "So we have many people helping out. But we failed to officially roster two coaches. But no one gets near players or fields without background checks. "
Taylor added he believes someone from Columbus turned in his league: "I think what happened was ... I think the Columbus team that lost said, 'Wait a minute. Did you check their roster?' and Little League saw we rostered too many 12 year olds."
Northern manager Randy Morris said the Columbus league "had nothing to do with it."
"Absolutely not," Morris said when asked if Northern turned in Peachtree City Little League. "No one in our league knew what was going on. We had one kid down at the beach. The parents had no clue."
While Taylor admitted his league did violate those two regular-season rules, he maintained it was unintentional.
"We're not adept at all of these nuances," Taylor said. "We didn't know we couldn't have more than eight in the regular season. Not only did we miss it, but other officials missed it.
"Yea, we missed it and we acknowledge that, but so did our district administrator and the Southern Region administrator."
Northern will be competing in Pool A. In addition to its Saturday night game, Northern will play Bridgeport (W. Va.) on Monday at 4 p.m. and South Brandon (Fla.) on Tuesday at 4 p.m.
The semifinals will be Wednesday, and the finals will be on Friday.
The Southeast Region champion will advance to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Penn.
The LLWS begins Aug. 14.
Northern has been to the LLWS twice, winning the world series title in 2006.