Jeff Rotsky, head football coach at Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School in Cleveland, will be suspended for three games of the playoff tournament, leading his lawyers to file a lawsuit against the Ohio High School Athletic Association in response.

Rotsky’s attorneys, Ian Friedman and Eric Long of Friedman & Nemecek, L.L.C. in downtown Cleveland, said they are filing the lawsuit against the OHSAA in response to sanctions being brought against the longtime coach.

The OHSAA announced Oct. 21 that Rotsky has been suspended for the first three contests of the 2021 OHSAA football tournament, should his school qualify for participation, due to “impermissible contact” with a player or players last year.

The OHSAA stated that Rotsky violated Bylaw 4-9-4 #3 when he had “impermissible contact” with student-athletes and their families at a Northeast Ohio basketball league in December 2020. At that time, Rotsky was transitioning to VASJ after his previous six-year stint at Euclid High School.

Friedman and Long said the action taken by the OHSAA in sanctioning Rotsky came the same day that they were “forced to overturn another baseless sanction brought against the team,” referring to a case in which two brothers on the VASJ football team allegedly broke Bylaw 4-7-2 that states “If a student transfers at any time after commencing the 9th grade year, the student shall be ineligible for all OHSAA tournaments in those sports in which the student participated during the 12 months proceeding this transfer.”

“Instead of accepting that they were wrong, they have opted to retaliate by immediately bringing this action,” Friedman and Long said in a statement. “They will now be met with the same fate, as another lawsuit will be filed against them forthwith. When we are done, our hope is that the OHSAA will finally acknowledge that coach Rotsky’s success, and that of his players, is the result only of hard work and dedication. The intensity and principle that he is known for will now be seen in the legal arena and his winning tradition will continue.”

VASJ will play in the first round Division IV, Region 13 playoffs at 7 p.m. Oct. 29. The location and opponent is to be determined, and all players on the team remain eligible for participation.

Rotsky would be eligible to return for the regional final game on Nov. 19, should VASJ win its first three playoff games. He led VASJ to a 6-1 record this year, after a 1-7 output last year under former coach Elvis Grbac.

Rotsky also previously coached at Cleveland Heights High School in Cleveland Heights from 2007 until 2014, compiling a 45-36 record. He guided the school to its first playoff appearance in 2011.

This is a developing story.

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