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Simeon alumni, parents sue IHSA over ‘blatant cheating’ in loss to Nazareth

Simeon's Alante Brown (3) throws a pass. Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times.
video by Annie Costabile

The Simeon Alumni Association and parents of players on the Simeon football team filed a lawsuit against the Illinois High School Association in Cook County Circuit Court on Friday.

The complaint alleges that Richard Mercado, an IHSA football official and the parent of a Nazareth football player, influenced officials at the state playoff game between Simeon and Nazareth on Nov. 10.

The Roadrunners won 34-27. There were several controversial calls in the game and a confusing sequence at the very end. Simeon was deep in Nazareth territory trying to line up for one last play, but a Nazareth player and an official fumbled the ball around as time expired.

According to the suit Mercado was standing on the sideline dressed as an official and spoke to the game officials before and during the game.

A photo from the lawsuit that points out Richard Mercado.
A photo from the lawsuit that points out Richard Mercado.

“Mercado was on the Nazareth sideline talking to referees during the game and telling them what calls to make,” Shay Allen, an attorney for the Simeon Alumni Association and parents, said. “The calls cost Simeon the game. After the game Mercado was trolling the Simeon players on social media, making comments saying ‘I did that to you.’”

One of Mercado’s Facebook posts cited in the lawsuit.
One of Mercado’s Facebook posts cited in the lawsuit.

Allen says that Simeon filed a complaint with the IHSA but that nothing was done.

“It was blatant cheating,” Allen said.

The suit requests that the IHSA vacate Nazareth’s win and that the IHSA permanently refrains from employing Mecardo and the crew that worked the game.

Nazareth beat Batavia this past weekend in the Class 7A state semifinals. The Roadrunners will face St. Charles North in the state championship game at 4 p.m. on Saturday in Champaign.

Nazareth coach Tim Racki had no comment on the lawsuit. The IHSA is expected to make a statement tomorrow.