The Arizona Interscholastic Association Executive Board on Tuesday rescinded the probation it had placed on the Hamilton High School football team and instead issued a warning.
The decision means the Huskies will be eligible for this season’s playoffs.
The move came after the board heard an appeal from Hamilton seeking to rescind probation, which the board ordered Aug. 15 for a recruiting violation by former team defensive coordinator Tim Dougherty. The trial period made the Huskies ineligible for the playoffs, although it allowed them to play this season.
Hamilton, again expected to be a top contender in Conference 6A, opens Friday’s game at home against Centennial.
“We just made sure that we understood that all of their requests and the corrective actions that they listed this time were more extensive,” AIA Executive Director David Hines said. “The board felt that it was an action again by an individual, a coach, that the warning placed on the athletic program is to make sure they do the things that they are supposed to do. And the kids are not being punished for the actions of Coach.”
After probation was imposed, Hamilton officials removed Dougherty from the coaching job to show that he was taking tougher disciplinary action in hopes that the probation would be rescinded. Prior to the parole action, Hamilton had said he was going to impose his own corrective action, suspending Dougherty for the first three games of the season, a move that apparently wasn’t enough to sway the AIA board at the time. .
Last week, Dougherty’s attorney, Rocky Finefrock, confirmed that his client had been removed from the defensive coordinator job for the entire season before this week’s hearing. Chandler Unified School District officials had no comment at the time.
The issue arose when Dougherty communicated via direct message on Twitter with a soccer player from Laveen Cesar Chavez earlier this summer. Dougherty paid the player a compliment and, in the Twitter exchange, he explained how Hamilton made Russell Davis the most dominant defensive end in his last two seasons in high school.
The player was never transferred to Hamilton. But Chavez’s athletic director, Lenny Doerfler, approached Hamilton AD Brett Palmer with screenshots of the direct message exchange after that happened.
Palmer said in a text message: “Very grateful to the AIA board and happy for our student-athletes.”
“We never want to be in a situation where we are punishing athletes,” said AIA Executive Board Chairman Jim Dean. “We appreciate the thought made by the Chandler School District. We appreciate Superintendent Frank Narducci and his direct involvement and additional corrective action from him as they go.”
CUSD spokeswoman Stephanie Ingersoll sent a copy of a letter from Hamilton Principal Mike De La Torre sent to soccer families.
Part of it read: “In keeping with our educational mission, both Hamilton and the District intend to learn from this experience and implement a multifaceted training and compliance program designed to mitigate the risk of future rule violations. This includes a more rigorous and ongoing training for all of our athletic trainers as it relates to AIA and the district’s expectations regarding communication with student-athletes.”
Dean and Hines did not provide the additional corrective action taken by the district and Hamilton. But Hines said the school and district have implemented several additional corrective actions.
After the AIA rescinded parole Tuesday, Finefrock texted The Arizona Republic: “In the words of Raider great Al Davis, ‘Just win baby.’ “
“The only thing that matters now is winning,” Finefrock added. “The best recruiting tool for Hamilton football is that we are willing to sacrifice ourselves for a chance at the championship.”
Scottsdale Notre Dame football did not get the same result in 2016 when its football team was placed on probation for AIA violations that included an advanced physical education course that had football players in full protection during practice sessions. low season. Even after the school fired then-head coach Mark Nolan and suspended then-athletic director Monica Barrett, the AIA Executive Board rejected Notre Dame’s appeal and placed the school on probation for a year, banning the American football team to participate in the 2016 postseason.
To suggest ideas for human interest stories and other news, contact Obert at [email protected] or 602-316-8827. Follow him on Twitter @azc_obert.
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