GARDNER (CBS) – Winter sport athletes at Gardner High can now compete in postseason competition.

The Massachusetts Interscholastic Association “reluctantly” lifted its ban Monday, after a long dispute with the city.

In October, the Gardner High School girls’ swim team was stripped of its state title after the MIAA ruled it had ineligible swimmers.

The MIAA then wanted the school to give back the trophy. The school and mayor refused and threatened to sue the MIAA.

But Mayor Mark Hawke eventually relented and returned the trophy last month.

In the decision announced Monday, MIAA Executive Director Richard F. Neal wrote to the school:

“Recognizing that the core mission of the MIAA is to promote educational athletic opportunities within our member schools, the MIAA Board of Directors is reluctantly removing that portion of your sanctions that would have excluded student participation in MIAA winter tournaments. As a result, any team or student athlete who qualifies, and is otherwise eligible, may to participate.”

The MIAA lifted the ban after receiving an apology letter from the City of Gardner last week.

In the letter, the city said they accepted the MIAA’s ruling but disagreed that MIAA rules were broken.

In the MIAA’s decision, they noted their dissatisfaction with Hawke’s public outcry over the ban.

“The nature of your letter serves to exacerbate the frustration you have caused the Board for the past twelve months, and it has made most difficult the Board’s willingness to accept it as a reasonable rescue attempt on behalf of the students you have placed in harm’s way,” the letter said.


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