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January 30, 2007
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Suspended prep star O.J. Mayo won a temporary restraining order Tuesday that would allow him to play later in the day for Huntington High against another nationally ranked opponent.
Cabell County Circuit Judge Dan O'Hanlon granted separate requests by Mayo and five other Huntington players who were suspended for two games stemming from a game against Capital last Friday.
The rulings would allow Mayo and his teammates to play in a game Tuesday night At Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C., against Artesia of Lakewood, Calif. O'Hanlon set hearings for the players for Feb. 9 and barred state athletic officials from imposing the suspensions until a decision is made on the players' procedural rights to appeal the penalties.
Mayo received two technical fouls and was ejected, then he followed referee Mike Lazo to the scorer's table and apparently bumped the referee from behind.
Under state rules, the penalty for receiving two technical fouls in a game or being ejected from a game is a two-game suspension. A student who "in protest lays hands or attempts to lay hands upon an official" can be declared ineligible for up to a year.
Mayo's five teammates were suspended for leaving the bench area.
"We feel O.J. certainly didn't do anything intentional," his attorney, Mike Woelfel, who also is an assistant coach at Huntington, told The Herald-Dispatch on Monday. "If there was contact, it was inadvertent or may have been accidentally initiated by the referee himself."
Huntington (15-0) and Artesia (21-1) are ranked among the top high school teams in the country by several national publications. Huntington also is scheduled to play Friday against Scott County (Ky.) in Lexington, Ky.
Under SSAC rules, if a student plays under a restraining order that is later reversed, the team could be forced to forfeit any victories in which the student played. Mike Hayden, executive director of the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission, didn't immediately return a telephone message Tuesday.
Mayo, considered one of the nation's top seniors, signed a letter-of-intent in November to play next season at Southern California.
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