Parting of the Ways Part 14.5- Muffed Punt

The NCAA is to American college sports what FIFA and the IOC are to international sports: strict governing bodies but corrupt beyond belief. That said, they at least have started to give transgender athletes their due by allowing athletes to compete as their real gender.

Apologies for this being the second part of Part 14 instead of being Part 15, like Part 3.5 it was an extension of the events of Part 14 as opposed to a separate, character focused story part.

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ESPN's complete and thorough thrashing of the NCAA investigation into Miles led to the NCAA to try to revoke Miles' amateur status outright. Terry Cox had the ears of several key people, making them believe Miles was dirty and with enough time and pressure he would show his true colors. Miles' defenders were brushed off as liars or using him to advance their agenda, making him out to be a martyr of the poor trash who made it big by getting adopted by rich people.

Miles was declared ineligible for the next game but at the last minute it was changed to provisional with the game being looked at later for review. It basically meant that Miles was allowed to play but they were still going after him no matter what, which was enough to cause his critics to cry "special treatment" and demand he be kicked off the team. The school offered a token appeal but it was clear that they were ready to let Miles get railroaded instead of fighting for his rights.

Miles handed in his uniform and walked away, ignoring the requests from the coaches especially the head coach. He was tired of being their football and getting kicked around with nobody listening to him or even caring what he had to say about the whole situation. It wasn't worth it anymore and the school had shown just where their loyalties lay- money mattered more than the players.

Classes had started so Miles was entrenched in his finance and accounting classes. It was going well for him with his professors pleased that he was ahead of his classmates and able to help out. He was offered the right to forgo several of his classes that semester due to his advanced knowledge but he kept in them due to playing football but now it was due to needing to do something. It was also a good distraction as Miles could think about other things instead of football and investigations with his passion for accounting and finance giving him just what he needed.

Jaimie dealt with the investigation putting her on display for everyone to see as many more people who had no clue that she was transgender had a go at her. She hated it and hoped to go back to being anonymous but the few who hated her on principle were constantly making her time in the dorms misery. If not for Christina she would have quit school and returned home a week ago.

The stalking had gotten worse to the point that she had to be completely covered until she was inside the shower stall and wedge the door closed so nobody barged in if they fiddled with the lock. It was humiliating and several times she was on the verge of running out in tears as the loud whispers reached her with Jaimie yelling that she was in there and heard everything. She resorted to showering early in the morning or late at night after everyone was asleep, they were the only times nobody was around and allowed her to shower in peace.

It was tough on her. She hid her inner turmoil but Christina was able to help her see that things weren't her fault and those who had an issue with her were the ones in the wrong and if they did anything to her they would be the ones who would be in trouble, not her. She tried to get Jaimie to refocus her struggles onto her increasing classwork, ensuring that studious Jaimie was frequently engrossed in it so she didn't have any time available to feel miserable about what was being done to her.

In addition to Jaimie's struggles with transphobic girls, Christina was under constant bombardment by guys trying to woo her away from Miles or girls trying to latch onto her to get at football players or more popular guys. It was like high school all over again, except she was without her usual outlet of cheerleading and activities to keep her from breaking down and mouthing off to the hangers-on. Miles and she tried to spend as much time as possible together but his schedule was swamped with football and homework giving her even more free time to herself giving the leeches more chances to latch on to her causing her nothing but anger and frustration.

Class was little better as professors were detached from the students, acting like drones instead of professors. The Lotharios tried to woo her while the girls tried to keep her attention instead of trying to listen to the professors teach. She eventually sat with the outcasts who were all too eager to give her a chance to get away from those who only wanted her for sex or social advancement.

After two days she was entrenched with them, talking with them about anything and everything while working on class projects. They were aware of who she was rooming with and who she was dating but didn't care about any of that. To them, Christina was just another student who was helping make their class go smoother and at times made it fun.

Miles quitting caused the football team to stand up to the athletic department over their treatment towards Miles. Instead of standing by him, they had chosen to toss him aside and giving Terry Cox exactly what he wanted despite knowing it was all lies and exaggerations. If they did that to someone who gave the school positive publicity and who had helped improve the team by filling in a role nobody else could, they could do it to any of them without a second thought.

The coaches stayed out of all of the Miles drama. They didn't care about the drama so long as it didn't impact the team on the field. The head coach though had other ideas, confronting the team over going against the coaches' wishes then standing with them in support of Miles. The assistants didn't have to like it, it was his decree and they would agree with it or resign. None resigned.

Miles was officially given the week off despite having already said he was quitting. This week off just happened to be coinciding with the family's trip east to attend the wedding of Juanita Vega to Zoe James. It was exactly what he needed to clear his mind and give his anxiety a rest while allowing him to consider his options for down the road.

The time off wasn't a request, it came directly from above the athletic department. They wanted him gone and hoped that the time away would give Terry the time needed to get the final dirt on Miles. Unbeknownst to the athletic department, Miles would have been given the weekend off anyway with the order coming down directly from the chancellor and head of student activities.

The school's interest in Miles was more than just his athletic abilities. Miles was going to be a guest at the governor's home. Him not being there was not going to happen and if he was forced to stay at the school there would be a lot of awkward questions asked by powerful people seeking answers to questions that the school did not want to answer at that time.

Rick brought Sydney Powers with him as his guest as he didn't want the boy to be left to the mercies of the resident jerks in their dorms and around the campus. Jaimie, Miles, and Christina agreed, with the girls putting on their best big sister act for him as they drove east with him in their car. It was the best he had ever felt, they were great people who made him feel like part of the family even if he was not related to anyone.

Rick introduced Sydney to everyone with Rick having to explain how someone so young could be in college let alone earning his PhD. Sydney was accepted for what he was, a smart young man who was going to be an even better engineer once he was on par with his colleagues. The younger kids and teens were in awe as well as felt inadequate around Sydney, but he was grateful that they were able to act like he was just another teen even if he was not in middle school with them.

The middle schoolers latched onto Sydney and gave him a chance to be a kid for a bit while the others got the final preparations done. He never noticed that he was being observed by them, almost as if they were trying to see if he figured out that there was something different about two of the 11-year-old girls. He was perfectly fine with them, even enjoying their talk about little things like clothes and makeup while straying away from the five boys with them.

Sydney was being himself and unintentionally showing his softer side. The girls loved that he was doing that and joked that the boys should do it as well. Sydney blushed and thanked them while the boys were happy to add "you can do that, we are man enough to know we aren't man enough to be in touch without looking like drag queens. Sorry, but no amount of makeup will make us look as beautiful as you ladies."

Sydney didn't take that as being offensive and loved being "one of the girls". He was asked about that, giving the girls a timid "I always played with girls before I graduated school. My stepdad hated it, he wanted me to be more manly but I'm never going to be that way."

Sydney left after that to see Rick and the older teens. Shea Porter and Patrick Peterson had a great time talking with him on his own level. The three engineers were of similar minds and Patrick had been impressed with Sydney's theories and patents. Sydney was eager to work with them in the future, with Patrick hoping that he was going to join them at Sydney's company as a partner when he was older.

The wedding itself was sweet and tear-jerking for all, especially the young Sydney. The brides were walked down the aisle by Patrick Peterson, Juanita's brother-in-law, and Paul James, Zoe's father. The minister was the family's minister and didn't seem the least bit upset that two ladies were marrying, he was just upset that Patrick walked Juanita down the aisle instead of her stepfather Vance Taylor but was proud to let Patrick do the honors for someone so close to him.

Sydney couldn't help but feel overwhelmed at times as he watched the festivities. Miles carefully kept to himself and encouraged the family to say hello to Sydney allowing Miles a breather and time with Jaimie. It was nerve wracking but he got to meet everyone and for the first time in his life felt like he understood what it was like to have a loving family, something he had never experienced before.

Jaimie and Rick went with Rick's parents allowing Miles to take control of watching Sydney for the night which also gave him a chance to relax given how anxious Sydney was to be there. At the Finn home Miles helped him to his room and put out his clothes, unintentionally catching sight of a few things in Sydney's bag that he didn't expect to see. Sydney pulled the bag away but Miles didn't say anything, just telling him that they hide better under shirts than left out on top like he had done.

Nothing more was said. There was nothing Miles could do at this point that wouldn't cause a problem that he didn't think Sydney could deal with. Miles didn't want to scare him and if his issue was going to get worse he would have to tell Rick who could get him help.

The next morning Sydney didn't talk about what was in his bag and Miles gave him his privacy about it. It was something near and dear to Sydney, whatever he had going on was going to be addressed later. He was careful to follow Miles' recommendation to hide his items from casual view, ensuring that what was inside wasn't seen by anyone unless they emptied his bag making a big mess of the bed or floor.

The four spent that Sunday with loved ones as Sydney entertained Logan and Ella Finn. The two were good for a few laughs while giving Sydney a chance to enjoy himself without feeling out of place. He may have been a genius but inside that genius was the heart of a 13-year-old kid who still liked cartoons and simple video games. The two knew just how to make him feel at home and were sad to see him go when the five drove west that evening.

The next game for UMass was that Thursday, with the team giving their final ultimatum: Miles played or they didn't. This time the coaches joined in, as his plight was now known to the governor who would be sure to inquire about state employees violating the rights of a student in not giving him due process. There was no middle ground, Miles was part of them and not one to be fooled around with.

The NCAA was called with Terry Cox and his crew told to show cause for their investigation or end it immediately. There would be a meeting on Tuesday to determine everything, including Miles' eligibility and any penalties UMass would be forced to endure. Their minds were made up, but the school administrators had firepower too. If the athletic department weren't going to fight for their athlete, the school would do so for them and ensure they paid the penalty.

Miles was told Monday afternoon with him immediately asking for legal representation for the meeting as he didn't want to go alone. The school didn't think it was needed to which Miles growled "I'm calling in my grandparents and my mother then. It's serious and I don't want to get railroaded by anyone. You will survive, I'll be blacklisted, humiliated, called a fraud, and have to put up with angry students if I am not run out of school in retaliation. I'm not attending without help and they would not let me go to such an important meeting without knowing my rights first."

Valerie Finn and her parents, Joseph and Evelyn Johnson, arrived early the next day to plan for the session. They weren't alone, with them was Kennedy Pena and several of her colleagues from the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office. This was going to lead to an investigation into the school's athletic department as it was a bit too quick and coordinated to not be a major issue, Miles couldn't have been the only one to have this issue cost them their career under the current administration.

The four toured the campus with a "guide" which Kennedy angrily told "we will be entering the dorms without you. You have no business following us around as we are here legally and as an alumna your treatment of me will be used against you when I contact the alumnae service representative." Their "guide" asked if it was a threat, getting a grin and swift "it's a promise. Don't be here when we come out or I'll have the police place you under arrest."

Their "guide" fired back an angry "I don't care who you think you are, I was told to follow you around and ensure you stayed out of trouble and I'm going to do it." Kennedy just smiled, called a number on her phone, then told the responding officer that the woman with them was impeding a state investigation and had threatened her. The officers nodded, took the woman into custody and released her when her supervisor came to collect her and answer questions as to why they had assigned someone to follow people around the campus without their consent.

Inside the door, Jaimie and Christina were inside studying and hugged the four as they entered. Outside their room, jokes about the "tranny freak" getting kicked out started immediately with Kennedy asking about them. She was no fool, for someone to have said that with people who were clearly there for Jaimie and Christina had to have been occurring frequently.

Jaimie tried to act like it was no big deal but Christina angrily told her "it's encouraged. The resident advisers won't stop them and anything reported gets ignored. It's the same people doing it but anyone who complains is disciplined. They have told Jaimie and I that if we complained again we would be kicked out of the dorms then out of school."

Kennedy grinned while Evelyn added "don't rip them to shreds too much, leave some for us." Christina blushed while Jaimie told them "I'm transferring east. I can't take it anymore. I tried but I can't be me if everyone hates what I am. Nobody here except Rick, Miles, and Christina can see past what I used to be to let me have a moment's peace."

Jaimie had her mind made up and was prepared for this confrontation ahead of time. Christina was in agreement but didn't want to leave Miles to himself. It was tough to see but the girls were going to separate, leaving Christina on her own now.

The four led Jaimie out and formally filed multiple complaints with the RA then went to the school to officially withdraw Jaimie with intent to transfer after filing complaints with the police for criminal harassment and reckless endangerment. Valerie was on the phone to the people at UMass-Boston while Joseph was on the phone to Salem State with both happy to have Jaimie. Jaimie chose UMass-Boston as they had more classes online allowing her to overcome her late start.

Jaimie was packed up within an hour with UMass-Amherst calling her phone as well as Valerie's phone trying hard to keep Jaimie there. The RA was fired for her role in the harassment while several students were given written warnings but it was too little too late. Jaimie shed a tear as the last of her belongings were put into Valerie's car, with Christina hugging her tightly as they said they'd see each other that weekend.

Jaimie's exit caused a miniature celebration in the dorm. Christina tore into the celebrants, venting her built up anger at everyone mistreating her best friend. She found a few allies, some of her classmates spoke up on her behalf and admonished most of the crowd as being a bunch of hypocrites and liars for how they acted like they were accepting then trash someone who genuinely needed accepting.

Christina watched as several got into verbal arguments over their claims. Her classmates were standing tall over all comers and made several of the girls back off as they were going to be outed as being the vain, petty, vindictive bigots they all knew them to be. She felt pride at them doing this for her, especially as it was done because her friend was hurt emotionally.

Rick was intentionally left in the dark about Jaimie's departure until the last moment. When he was told he immediately understood and would do the same as her. It was only nature, he couldn't be without her. He hated to leave Sydney to the vultures of their dorm but it was going to be necessary. Sydney would endure, he had a strong survival instinct in him that Rick had seen shine through during some of their brief encounters with idiots outside their dorm.

Rick asked about Christina, getting a smile from Jaimie and happy "she called to tell me that her classmates were banding around her and had caused a revolution in the dorm. She is going to be alright, she will get a new roommate as one of the girls is going to move in with her. As long as she has a car she will have access to home and a break from school but she should be fine now."

Sydney looked down as he hugged Jaimie goodbye. She noticed his sad mood and told him that he was not going to be forgotten by them. Christina was going to be there for him, she couldn't leave him without someone to be his support and he may find some others who were in his boat as people who were all alone without anyone except themselves.

Miles' hearing came up with after lunch with all eight eating together. Jaimie's tears had dried up and Rick had assured her that he was going to be alright for another week. Christina and Miles kept quiet but both knew that if this went against Miles Christina and he would have a lot to answer for.

Kennedy was given notes from her colleagues and just smirked. Her hunch was right, something was not right about the investigation and the school's reactions. It was coupled with some damning emails that were forcibly preserved on the school's servers by the state forensic investigators with Kennedy asking Miles if he was going to go full crash and burn or if he was only trying to stay with the team.

Miles looked at her angrily, explaining "I didn't want to play! You know I only did this because I was begged to by my roommate Mitch then by the team. I don't want to play anymore, but I don't want to harm the team. If the school is breaking the rules then take them down and show them as the criminals that they are, It doesn't matter to me anymore."

He took a breath, looked down, and continued "the team will endure, in fact I think they will come out of this better once I talk with them. I'm done here no matter what. I can't stay as a student with a target on my back and people constantly trying to show they were better than the brother of the transsexual and the guy who quit football because I couldn't hack it as a player."

Miles walked into the athletic department with his mother and grandparents around him. He was led inside with the trio being told they couldn't go with him. Kennedy just grinned, looked down at the lawyer for the NCAA, and told him firmly "he is allowed legal representation and as a representative of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts any actions taken against Miles Finn or the University of Massachusetts at Amherst will be appealed directly to the US District Court in Boston for violating his civil rights as well as breaking antitrust laws. He has rights, even if your organization pretends that he doesn't he still has them and he is exercising them."

Miles sat down with his mother by his side and grandparents holding every document supporting him in their hands. The investigator tried to intimidate Miles but he ignored him, waiting for the hearing to start. He looked at his mother who nodded, glancing at Kennedy who was ready to help if need be.

Terry started right off the bat by claiming that Miles had illicit contact with an agent and had done so for several years despite claims to the contrary. He presented several signed statements to show that he had lied to the media about his relationship and had no right to play further. He then tried to claim that Miles had gone out of his way to embarrass the NCAA for making false accusations and that his conduct off the field was noted to be against regulations thus, in his opinion as the representative of the NCAA, he would be barred from playing and the school would forfeit the two games he played in.

Kennedy looked at the documents after the Johnsons finished then started laughing. Valerie just glanced at them while Kennedy noted who signed them and when. The dates didn't add up, in fact they were so new that they could not possibly have been authentic and the content was outright lies told by someone who had no idea what they were talking about nor had any idea just who Juan Reagan was let alone having ever met him.

Valerie sighed, asked that the recorder be turned on, then stated firmly "the allegation of an improper relationship with Juan Alvarez is laughable. As has been proven multiple times, Miles Finn for four consecutive summers was employed by the Winnisimmet Youth Summer Jobs Program as a youth mentor for children in the city. His job was one of two dozen, with his friends and family participating. He did so under direct control of Mr. Reagan, whose name was previously Juan Alvarez."

Kennedy added "the fact that Juan was called Alvarez instead of Reagan shows that your documents are forgeries and the claims false. Juan Reagan's signature is bogus as is the signature of the man who was conveniently not interviewed, Juan's boss Louis Reagan. This will be noted by my agency."

There was a counter claim that it was inappropriate as he was an agent and any contact with him made him ineligible. Joseph countered with the bylaws for eligibility which allowed that kind of contact as no money was exchanged nor was it ever mentioned. Any actual money mentioned was in regards to retirements as Miles had worked for his friend's mother as an assistant during tax season and had the financial records to show that he was legally working for her and any talk about contracts was done as her assistant and done within the confines of the bylaws.

The actual sections were quoted with each encounter being allowed. The further claims that Miles had accepted payment for babysitting was shot down quickly by Evelyn who explained "if by payment you mean dinner then yes. He ate dinner with the Reagans before they went on their date nights as he kept watch over their son and daughter. As has been stated, his younger daughter is close with Miles' sister and is also the classmate twin brother."

The whole interaction with Miguel Toro was brought up. Valerie laughed hard at that, with Kennedy stating "unless you are going to claim that Mr. Toro facilitated some sort of agreement with Mr. Reagan and Mr. Finn this is a dead end. Mr. Toro has multiple sources who confirm just what his relationship is to Miles as his own niece is close friends with and dating three of Miles' cousins. All interactions were done via the same organization Miles worked for over the summer and was part of a longstanding family tradition of helping the organization dating back to its founding. He is the third generation of Finn to help that organization and the first to have been both a recipient of help from the group via field trips and after school activities."

There was no actual evidence. The claims were next shown to be lies falsified by the now-former kicker, Ray Ventura, whom Miles had humiliated with his great play and dedication to the team. Kennedy added further fuel as she showed that the whole thing was orchestrated by Terry who offered Ray a shot at playing with Terry's former school if he was able to get evidence against Miles.

This was enough to show that the whole investigation was a fraud. The NCAA lawyers tried to claim that they couldn't use those emails but Kennedy countered with a firm "they are part of our criminal investigation, obtained through a search warrant. The warrant is both state and federal so expect visits from the FBI as well. When you are done here, you will have to speak with our troopers about this extortion attempted. Miles Finn has done no wrong here, yet you extorted the school into getting rid of him as retaliation for him making Mr. Cox's school look horrible on the field with his superior play."

The NCAA lawyers tried to act like it wasn't a real threat and countered with their own volley "that boy has no business playing. His family is a disgrace to the sport. He doesn't belong on the field and by god we will ensure that he never is allowed out there again. He's the son of a drug deal, the nephew of a murderer, is just a pathetic street rat who got lucky in finding someone who felt sorry for him and kept him around. That doesn't include that boy masquerading as a girl who is making this school look like a haven for people who want to live like drag queens and claim they are what they aren't."

The man had unintentionally shown the true reason for the investigation. Miles wasn't the target, it was Jaimie. They wanted to keep her away from sports so she didn't cause damage as she was a fully transitioned female making all restrictions against her null. Transgender athletes were making inroads into sports and causing problems for the powers that be who were being forced to accommodate them.

Valerie looked at he parents who were about ready to blow gaskets. She just calmly told the man "as you have shown that you have no actual interest in Miles Finn but rather are trying to take your own prejudice regarding his sister out on him we will be forced to file suit against your organization for the vile attempt to cause my son humiliation for no reason except his sister, who is neither an athlete nor is involved with any sport at this school, being related to him. I would file on her behalf but I don't believe that it will do anything except bankrupt you."

Kennedy nodded to her colleagues who added "we have enough in the emails and on record here to take you and your team down. This was beyond the scope of your employment and whomever decided that it was alright to go after a young lady without provocation will pay dearly. The NCAA will be forced to account for its actions and its enforcement policies especially in regards to targeting family of athletes who had done no wrong."

The group got up with Miles telling the school "I am withdrawing effective immediately. I want nothing to do with you anymore. My mother will have her legal response shortly as will my aunt. I'll tell the coach myself and accept whatever he has to say about it."

Miles walked back to his dorm, got his personal items together, and kissed Christina goodbye. He shot off an email to the reporters letting them know about the investigation being directly targeted at him due to Jaimie which would cause chaos for the NCAA but give him breathing room. They tried to get further comment but he was clear that he wasn't to be disturbed further.

Mitch wasn't happy to see him leave but he understood his reasons. He offered Miles a warm hug and told him that he gave up a potential All-American career but he did it for the right reasons. Jaimie was a great person and if she wasn't already engaged to Rick he would have tried to date her, which Miles happily told him he was the kind of guy he hoped would date Jaimie too.

Miles then went to the athletic center to turn in his school issued workout cloths only to be told they were his to keep. The equipment manager did the same with his jersey, it was his to keep as a keepsake of his time with the team. He may have been screwed over by the school but the team voted him in as one of them and would share with him any bowl victory rings if they went to a game that year.

His pride swelled but his anxiety built up as he headed to the head coach's office and turned in his playbook, telling him "you are overdoing things. You have plays that are perfect for the receiving corps buried under complex trash. Think about your players' abilities not what will work. The guys just need a few simpler plays that utilize their talents, use them and you will win easily the next three weeks giving you a bowl game berth."

He walked out as the coach grinned and added "your reputation is proven true. I'll make the changes, I wish I could have used you more but the school is foolish for what they did to you. Good bye and good luck, you and your family are going to need it."



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