Senior Analyst, TheOldCoach.com
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ARLINGTON - On Wednesday afternoon the District 3-5A Executive Committee met at the Martin High School library to discuss the eligibility of a student athlete who transferred from Arlington High to Martin High and played in three district games against Fort Worth Paschal, North Crowley and Weatherford.
The player moved from Arlington High to Martin High on September 16, just two days after Arlington's 36-3 loss to Mansfield Timberview. According to testimony given by Arlington Head Coach Scott Peach the player in question was removed from the AHS program on Saturday September 14 after conduct unbecoming of an Arlington High football player.
On Monday morning, Peach testified he received a call from an AHS counselor advising him the athlete had withdrawn from school and had enrolled at Martin and had put down he had an address in the Martin attendance zone.
"About 45 minutes after I had spoken with the counselor, I got a call from Coach Wager (Head Football Coach at Martin) he asked me what do you want me to do with this kid, he just showed up in my office. I told him I was excited to find out he lived in the Martin High attendance zone, it excited me to know he'd have a chance to play for someone else."
Coach Peach testified about 15 days later he received a PAPF from Martin, and that point admitted he made a mistake with the understanding that because the athlete lived in the Martin attendance zone he'd be eligible and checked "No" on all six boxes of the form, technically making him eligible for varsity competition. The PAPF was immediately sent over to Coach Wager at Martin High School.
Peach testified about six weeks later he was called into the AHS counselor's office and was advised AHS administrators were made aware by AISD administration that the boxes on the PAPF were not checked appropriately. Peach met with an AISD administrator and advised that he had no malice regarding the incorrect PAPF and that he had simply made a mistake. At that time Peach advised he would submit a second PAPF answering the questions number one, four and five on the form as "yes."
After the DEC reviewed the two PAPF's the panel began to ask Coach Peach some pointed questions and the first one was asked when Peach and Wager had their initial discussion, did Peach inform Wager that the athlete had been removed from his program?
Peach answered that Coach Wager asked him several questions involving what had happened Peach responded, "I was very truthful and let him know what happened." Peach was then asked why he filled out the PAPF incorrectly the first time and he advised he was trying to help the student and give him another chance, "I didn't want to bury the kid," said Coach Peach.
After Coach Peach was questioned, the player's mother was then questioned regarding why she filled out several questions on her form incorrectly. She stated she misunderstood a couple of questions on the form, but she had indeed moved her family to the Martin attendance zone six months prior.
The mother stated her son had wanted to transfer to Martin when they had moved but she wanted to uphold the family tradition of graduating from Arlington High. She stated she was unsure of Martin's academics so she didn't want to move her son.
The committee did question the timing of their move which took place just a couple of days after her son had been removed from the athletic program at one school, the mother replied she was moving her son on that day regardless because she had felt comfortable with the academics at Martin High School.
After the parent was questioned, the committee questioned Coach Wager about the initial conversation with he and Peach and Wager stated that he and Peach did not get into specifics on what happened. Wager stated he did not see any red flags regarding the transfer and acted upon the PAPF he was given. Wager stated that Peach did mention he and the player had an issue, but they didn't get into specifics and the player and his mother did not mention any issues when he spoke with them.
After meeting with the mother and student athlete the committee went into closed session to discuss the specifics of the case. Immediately after the conclusion of the closed session the committee voted 5-0 to rule the student ineligible for athletics for one calendar year. An administrator from Sam Houston then made a motion to vote for Martin to forfeit the three games the student played in (vs. Weatherford, Paschal and North Crowley), the motion was seconded by an administrator from Paschal.
At this time, Peach asked if he could speak but was denied the chance to speak during the vote. The committee ruled 4-0 for Martin to forfeit the three games, Weatherford did not vote as they took over as chair due to Martin and Arlington being recused from voting due to direct involvement in the case. North Crowley abstained from voting, although Tommy Brakel (basketball coach at NCHS) was visibly upset about the vote.
After the vote, Peach asked to speak and was granted the floor, he again stated he felt Martin should not be punished for a mistake that he made. Peach stated he did not understand why Martin was punished and stated he had no idea why because he filled out a PAPF why Martin should be punished. The committee listened to the comments but took no further action.
Arlington Martin's principal who chaired the committee indicated Martin would be filing an appeal to the UIL. At this time, Martin's record in District 3-5A is 1-4, the Warriors if the ruling stands must win their final two games and hope they can win out on a tiebreaker to advance to the playoffs. The playoffs start in less than two weeks, so it is highly likely the UIL State Executive Committee will hear the appeal next week. Stay tuned to the THEOLDCOACH for updates on this story.