Much was made of Tuesday’s tweaking of Georgia High School Association bylaws that will essentially make it illegal for any member schools (i.e., every high school program in Georgia) to schedule games with schools that are not full members of their state associations “without restrictions,” (IMG Academy is a member of the Florida High School Athletic Association, according to the FHSAA, but the school chooses not to participate in the state playoffs). Yes, the GHSA decision will have an impact on IMG, but it is also is a notable place setter for other state associations and coaches’ association, particularly because it isn’t the first to strike back at IMG.
Indeed, that honor belongs with the Texas High School Coaches Association (THSCA), which launched a full-on attack against IMG’s recruiting practices in Spring 2016.
Here’s what Glenn West, the President of the THSCA and Brenham head coach, said about IMG’s influence on high school football in a previous interview with the Dallas Morning News:
“I’ve not known of players leaving their high schools in Texas and going on to private areas to train and playing on travel teams. I wasn’t aware our state had to do that. It certainly happened this offseason and I felt like that needs to be made aware. You’re getting ready for the next year of your season and you’ve got players on your team that are returners and all of a sudden they’re leaving and going to train somewhere else.
“It’s not necessarily against IMG, it’s just for years in the state of Texas we have been the advocate for our kids, where the college coaches come through and it’s been a really good situation for hundreds of years. The idea of athletes being raised through your program in your community, being part of your community, until later in their career (they) think they need to go to a specialist, we don’t agree with that. … We’ve sent a lot of people on to college and the NFL. We think we do a good job of sending them there. We’re with them from day to dark. I will stand strong on that I think our coaches do a great job.”
While there weren’t any official rules or regulations in West’s very public proclamations, they had their intended effect: No Texas teams are on the IMG schedule this season, while Georgia power Grayson will be the final team from the Peach State in 2016 to face off against IMG, by definition. Now the question is which state is next to actively discourage its teams from scheduling IMG next.