Two Arizona media members who are accused of sending sexually suggestive messages to student-athletes have been banned by the state’s high school sports governing body.
The Arizona Interscholastic Association informed athletic directors Tuesday that twin brothers Jeff and Zach Edgington are banned from all AIA events, Tegna affiliate KPNX-TV reports. Neither brother was employed by or represented the Arizona Republic, part of the USA TODAY Network.
In a statement to KPNX Wednesday, the AIA would only say that the ban was due to “inappropriate contact” with student-athletes.
KPNX, however, spoke with high school athletes in multiple schools and sports across the Phoenix metro area, many of whom described inappropriate and uncomfortable messages sent to them by the Edgingtons. Per KPNX, the student-athletes they spoke with attend schools in Scottsdale, Phoenix, Gilbert, and Mesa.
“They just kept asking for pictures of me, and they kept complimenting my body. And it was just like really uncomfortable,” a Mesa girls basketball player who asked that her identity not be revealed told KPNX.
The Mesa student-athlete told KPNX that the requests grew increasingly inappropriate, including one request for a photo of the girl in a bra.
“It started in 2016. I first got a message from one of the Edge twins … but a couple months ago, probably the beginning of this year, it turned into something else … One of them asked me to send them a picture of me in a bikini and that he would send me a picture back of him,” she said.
KPNX attempted to contact both brothers and reached Zach via phone. He denied any improper conversations, claiming that he’s “never inappropriately talked to anybody under 18.”
“I do not think that my twin brother or I have done anything inappropriate … My response is that there’s nothing with anybody underage,” said Zach, who went on to criticize the AIA for failing to inform him or his brother about the ban. “I don’t have any negative thoughts or idea in my head ever. This has blown up where it’s actually causing my brother and I self-harm.”
Multiple local journalists told KPNX that the brothers worked as freelance reporters for local papers and websites and that their AIA media credential was issued through the website ScoreStream. In an email to KPNX, ScoreStream CEO Derrick Oien wrote he’s “mortified” and that men were never paid employees. The company told KPNX the twins offered to provide scores and photos and “essentially scammed us into getting the credentials.”
You can read more of the KPNX story here.