BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Starpoint varsity wrestling parents filed a petition in State Supreme Court Thursday seeking to overturn the school district’s decision to cancel the season and bar students from competing in Saturday’s sectional championships due to allegations of misconduct against one or more members of the varsity wrestling team.

News 4 has learned that a judge denied their petition Friday, keeping the school district’s decision in place.

The petition gave a first look into the district and Superintendent Dr. Sean Croft’s decision to cancel the season, which the petition labeled as “an arbitrary and capricious determination and/or abuse of discretion and/or a violation of lawful procedure.”

The cancellation decision was first announced in a Feb. 7 letter to Starpoint parents obtained by News 4. It stated the district was “in receipt of serious allegations of inappropriate conduct by one or more members of the Varsity Wrestling Team” and that law enforcement was involved in the investigation. Niagara County Sheriff Michael Filicetti confirmed to News 4 that there is an active investigation into the varsity wrestling team’s conduct, though so far there have been no charges filed.

The petition alleges that the decision from the district to cancel the varsity wrestling season stems “from one or two incident(s) that allegedly occurred during team practices.”

The first incident mentioned in the petition alleged that during a team practice on Jan. 24, two members of the team were involved in an incident with a teammate who is under 18. The petition further alleged that a number of team members were roughhousing and “piled on” each other, and during this, the shoes and socks of one of the student-athletes who is under 18 were removed and tossed away from the area. The petition stated that a coach on the Starpoint wrestling team staff reprimanded students for the incident and the practice continued.

According to the petition, a “similar incident” was said to have occurred on Jan. 25 during a practice at an off-site location, which took place during a snow day. The petition alleges that an incident involving the same under-18 student-athlete occurred that day, and the student “became upset, left practice, and texted his mother to come pick him [up].” Additional details were not provided.

Three days after the second incident, Starpoint went on to win the NYSPHSAA Wrestling Dual Meet Championships. The petition stated the team continued to practice ahead of the Feb. 11 Section VI Individual Championship, and “no further incidents occurred.”

Starpoint parents received the letter notifying them of the season’s cancellation after the alleged incidents were reported. Their court filing criticized the district, saying “The circumstances suggest the District is seeking to cover for its failure to properly investigate the allegations weeks ago.”

Anthony Rupp is a local attorney, who’s not representing anyone in the case, but he has been following it.

“They have a state championship wrestling team and division one and they have a lot of quality wrestlers who were clearly looking forward to this meet and clearly looking forward to strutting their stuff, on the statewide scene, and they could be the champions in their weight classes and now they don’t have that opportunity and it’s a shame,” Rupp said. “On the other hand, we haven’t heard the district’s side of the story. They haven’t released it. We don’t know why, what they’re investigating, the particulars of it. We do not know why they imposed the penalty on the entire time.”

With the individual championships scheduled for Saturday, Section VI wrestling co-chair Israel Martinez told News 4, “All of the alternates will stay in the bracket, even if Starpoint is re-entered into the tournament.” 

Martinez says they’d have to know by Saturday morning by the end of the tournament’s weigh-ins (approximately 8:30 a.m.) if the Starpoint wrestlers were allowed to compete. The tournament was moved to North Tonawanda High School after originally being scheduled to take place at Starpoint.

Adam Gorski is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team in 2022. You can find more of his work here.