A third party investigator for Seattle Public Schools says there is no evidence that a Garfield High School football coach violated athletic recruiting rules.
The investigation results announced Tuesday come after months of scrutiny for the school district’s recruiting practices and athlete eligibility.
The district hired a third party investigator when head football coach Joey Thomas came under fire for recruiting running back Will Sanders.
As USA Today reported in April, Sanders should not have been ineligible to play due to bad grades. The student athlete also claimed he was actively recruited by Thomas all the way from Texas.
“The allegations against our employees were not substantiated,” Seattle Public Schools said in a statement Tuesday. “The investigation concludes there is no evidence that head football coach, Joey Thomas, violated WIAA and District recruiting rules.”
Sanders reportedly came to Seattle to play at Garfield High School without any relatives to stay with. He spent the entire season living with the school’s track coach and parents of football players.
He raised red flags over Thanksgiving break in 2016. He says when he went home to Texas for the holiday, his coach told him they’d pay for his return to Seattle. “But when I called, Coach Thomas starts giving us the runaround, and that was it,” Sanders told The Seattle Times. “They just left us.”
During the district’s investigation, the process for identifying and confirming students’ homeless eligibility was also reviewed.
“We are currently improving our methodology for identifying and supporting our homeless students,” the district said in its statement. “We are following the WIAA process and procedures for determining athletic eligibility of students who transfer into schools and/or have received the ‘homeless’ designation.”
The district has not released a full copy of the investigator’s report. KING 5 has requested a copy.