Glendale Deer Valley’s football team remains on probationary status with the rest of the sports placed on advisement, after district officials met with the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s Executive Board on Tuesday.
The district brought forward its written corrective action to the AIA last week.
Chuck Schmidt, acting executive director of the AIA, complimented the Deer Valley district’s actions and recommended probation (ineligible for the playoffs) be lifted for all Deer Valley High sports but football this school year.
The district could return to the monthly AIA board meeting on Oct.21 with further corrective action or call for another emergency meeting before the state playoffs with hopes of getting the football team cleared for the postseason.
The football team is 4-2, losing its only games to Surprise Shadow Ridge in the opener and last week to Peoria Centennial.
The district asked for an executive meeting to start the appeal Tuesday. All media and public could not sit in on the executive meeting, which detailed steps involved in the corrective action.
Schmidt would not give specifics, and added that it would be up to Deer Valley to share its corrective action.
“The board was very impressed with the corrective action and the response from the Deer Valley leadership,” Schmidt said. “The goal was to assure that the corrective action will be completed. And based on that, they could be taken off probationary status in time for the playoffs.”
Deer Valley officials are not commenting.
Heidi Vega, district spokeswoman who is handling all media inquiries, said she could not give specifics.
This started when Deer Valley played two junior transfers from Peoria Centennial in the season opener after the AIA Executive Board denied their hardships.
Four days later, after the transfers’ appeals were heard, the board cleared the players for the rest of the season.
But because the school went against AIA policy by not waiting for the appeals process and playing the players while still ineligible, Deer Valley was hit with probation by the AIA.
Schmidt called it a violation of the most fundamental rule on eligibility.
Asked if Deer Valley didn’t go far enough to get the football team off of probation, Schmidt said, “It has nothing to do with ‘as far as.’
“The response by the Deer Valley district was significant,” he said. “The board is looking at the accountability, and that those who are accountable for that situation is still in flux. As this unfolds, the board will be informed of the finalization of that and they will take it into consideration on the 21st if not sooner.”
Tom Larson, whose son is a football player in the program and plays tennis at Deer Valley, said he believes the AIA wants the district to either fire Athletic Director John Allen or force him to step down from his post. Larson said that Allen was placed on administrative leave. E-mails to Allen and Principal Barbara Dobbs to confirm if that happened were not answered.
“That is absurd to hold that over the kids’ heads,” Larson said.
Mike Palomino, who is heavily involved as a parent in the football program and whose son Devon is the varsity’s starting quarterback, said he was shocked by the AIA’s decision not to lift the football team from probation.
“The coach didn’t make the decision, the players didn’t make the decision,” Palomino said. “It’s like if you’re in the war, and the general sends in the order and it’s the wrong order, you get punished. You don’t punish the soldiers.”
Some Deer Valley football players attended Tuesday’s meeting at the AIA headquarters.
They said that first-year head coach Eric Bolus still is leading the team.
“It’s a little unfairness, but again nobody has the power to tear us apart as a team,” said junior lineman Jaycob Ramos. “I trust my coaches, the staff and the district.”
Junior receiver Xavier Alderman believes it’s all “a big misunderstanding.”
“We have to pull through this as a team,” he said. “We have to keep moving forward. We’re all brothers. Nothing is going to tear us apart.”
Said sophomore backup quarterback Ethan Palomino: “I think it will get cleared up.”
“We need to keep pushing forward and take it a game at a time.”