Controversy lingers: Deer Valley HS charged with recruiting

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                </div>  The Arizona Interscholastic Association says Deer Valley High School is guilty of recruiting for its football program. Not so fast, says the Deer Valley football coach. According to an […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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The Arizona Interscholastic Association says Deer Valley High School is guilty of recruiting for its football program.

Not so fast, says the Deer Valley football coach.

According to an Arizona Republic article, an AIA investigation has found that Deer Valley committed a recruiting violation involving the transfer of Marquette Mitchell from Peoria’s Centennial High School last summer.  The investigation is the culmination of a major upheaval during the 2013 season that began when the state’s governing body for high school sports slapped a post-season ban on the entire Deer Valley sports program, covering not just football but all the sports.  (See 9/19/13 phxfan article: AIA penalties for Deer Valley HS need to be re-visited)

The reasoning for the extreme measure was that the school’s principal and athletic director participated with the football coach in knowingly disregarding an AIA bylaw when they allowed two football players, also transfers from Centennial, to play in the school’s season opener while their hardship appeals were still pending after being turned down once by the AIA.

By October, the AIA had first lifted the ban on the other sports after a parent uprising, and then removed the probationary status that had been put on the football team, replacing it instead with something called “advisement,” which enabled the team to participate in the post-season.  The Skyhawks made it into the play-offs, but lost to state champion Salpointe Catholic in the Division II semi-finals.

In conjunction with the initial findings, the AIA hired an investigator to look into whether there were any recruiting violations involved in the transfer of various students involved in the issues.  The results of that investigation determined that Mitchell’s move to the Deer Valley program was the result of a recruiting effort, most likely involving two assistant coaches who have since been removed from the program.

But the Deer Valley head football coach, Eric Bolus, has some problems with the investigation. When the Republic’s Richard Obert interviewed the coach for his article, Bolus was upset because he says the AIA didn’t make the effort to interview anyone in his program – neither the coaches, the principal, the athletic director, or anyone in the administration.  The AIA findings, he says, were based solely on discussions with three players from Centennial.

There’s a new athletic director now at the school, since Larry Eubanks has replaced John Allen, who was directly involved in the mess when it exploded during the winter.  Eubanks admits that he wasn’t on board during that time, but says he has reviewed the AIA report, which he received in December, and feels the report is “incomplete.”

Eubanks is standing behind his football coach.  “I’m a little disappointed in some of the things I read in the report,” he says in the article, confirming that no one from Deer Valley was interviewed.  “It’s not necessarily what I would call stellar.”

The school will have an opportunity to present its side of the story at an AIA meeting, but will probably have to wait until the April session since this month’s meeting occurs during spring break.  Once it makes its case, the AIA will have the option of adjusting the penalty, or perhaps even letting the school off with a warning.

Stay tuned.