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Updated Apr 30, 2015 - 2:13 pm

AIA board: Hamilton football recruiting investigation over

The case against Hamilton’s alleged recruitment of a former Coolidge football player is over.

Coolidge representatives said during Monday’s Arizona Interscholastic Association’s executive board meeting that they believed that Hamilton violated the recruiting bylaw, but they didn’t have proof.

“We don’t want to pursue punishment,” Coolidge’s principal Dawn Dee Hodge said during the meeting, which Hamilton coach Steve Belles also attended. “The Chandler (Unified School) District deemed the student ineligible to play, and that was satisfactory to us.”

The former Coolidge student, a senior, denied being recruited when CUSD superintendent Dr. Camille Casteel interviewed him during the summer.

Dr. Casteel said during the AIA's first board meeting of this school year that a lot of misinformation was relayed when the alleged recruitment became public, including that Belles handed out awards during the off season event hosted by Hamilton, where the alleged recruitment occured.

The student wanted to transfer to Hamilton but was subsequently denied enrollment because of an AIA bylaw that ( prohibits students to transfer to a school that hosted an off season event in which that student participated in.

“We denied that cause (transfer) because of the cloud hanging over him,” said Dr. Casteel during the meeting.

At the request of Dr. Casteel, the AIA’s board also discussed whether should be clarified.

After a lengthy discussion, the AIA’s lawyer, Mark Mignella, said he would look into how they could clarify that bylaw. During Monday's meeting, Hamilton also learned that the board allowed Belles to participate in the Jan. 2 Under Armour All-America game in Florida.

Mountain Pointe’s request to allow its football coach, Norris Vaughan, to coach in a different All-Star game also was approved. Vaughan was invited to coach in the Jan. 4 U.S. Army All-Star game in Texas.

The AIA made an exception to its All-Star competition bylaw (14.7) for Belles and Vaughan.

These are some of the other big agenda items that were also addressed Monday at the AIA’s headquarters in Phoenix:

  • In September, the board will pick its newest board member to represent the 4A. Per the AIA’s diversity clause, the board wants the 4A conference to analyze further its list of 4A board member candidates. The 4A executive board position opened up after AIA’s executive board president, Art Wagner, passed away.
  • Rancho Solano’s athletic director Aaron Trigg requested for an exception to the AIA’s 15.15.2 international student eligibility bylaw to help fill the school’s football 8-man football ranks.  About only nine players are currently on the varsity roster of Rancho Solano, which is home to 86 students, half of which are international students.  
  • The AIA would like the board to implement guidelines for AIA sponsored new or emerging sports requests. Girls flag football and robotics are two of the activities that are making a push for AIA sponsorship.
  • The AIA decided that sectional plaques will not be awarded to first and second place teams.
  • Officials are in high demand in Arizona, and the AIA isn’t the only organization they can work for. Executive board vice president Dr. Doug Wilson will head a task force with the hopes of finding options to retain the AIA's officials.    
  • The Glendale Union High School District is preparing to start a new online school but wants to make sure its students remain eligible to play. This is an emerging topic, something that that AIA and its board will address in the coming months.
  • The board approved emergency legislation to allow the tennis season to start three days earlier. This will allow teams to play another match during a short season and keep parts of the doubles and singles state tournaments from running on the same days. Also, the board voted to allow tennis teams to follow just the United State Tennis Association’s rules.
  • Associate member Clifton’s request to place some of its seniors on junior varsity teams was denied.
  • Greenway’s request to allow a regular season game to be played before the start of the regular season also was denied. America West Arena was scheduled to host that game during the annual Hoopin’ It Up at the Arena event.  The board also denied Sunrise Mountain’s request to allow two sophomores to play at the freshman level. 

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