Publisher's tweet led to ban of twins; AIA to review media credentialing process

Publisher's tweet led to ban of twins; AIA to review media credentialing process

News

Publisher's tweet led to ban of twins; AIA to review media credentialing process

The Arizona Interscholastic Association has revoked media credentials from 31-year-old twin brothers after they were accused on social media of soliciting racy photos and videos from high school student-athletes.

The AIA has also communicated to all schools to ban the twins from entering sporting events, according to its executive director.

The accusations were made public by the publisher of a prominent high school sports site who posted what he said were text messages and direct messages sent to students. They were sent by accounts tied to Zach and Jeff Edgington, who have been fixtures on Arizona sidelines for years.

 AIA authorities said they did not notify Valley police agencies.

“Things that we saw in a tweet were inappropriate but not reportable,” AIA Executive Director David Hines said. “If more information came out that needed to be forwarded, that was sent to us, certainly we would need to report it and we would do that.”

The Republic contacted six of the largest law enforcement agencies in the Phoenix area seeking information about any previous or ongoing investigations or reports involving Jeff or Zach Edgington.

No complaints involving the alleged misconduct had been reported as of Thursday afternoon, police officials said. Departments reported only knowing of the men because of news media reports.

One of the twins issued an apology in an interview Wednesday with The Arizona Republic.

The fallout began on Monday, when the ArizonaVarsity.com Twitter account began a thread about the brothers, known as the “Edge twins.”

The thread was tweeted by Ralph Amsden, the publisher of the Rivals.com-affiliated site, which covers Arizona high school football and has more than 11,000 Twitter followers. In the thread, the account shared screenshots of direct messages over Twitter and Snapchat from accounts tied to the twins.

Amsden said the direct messages were sent to student-athletes who then shared them with him.

In the messages, the posters sometimes would comment on games before moving the conversation to more personal, and often inappropriate, questions.

The messages asked several male athletes to send photos of themselves streaking or doing naked push-ups, and they asked several female athletes to send photos of themselves in sports bras.

“We’ve never done anything to anyone under 18,” Jeff Edgington told The Republic on Wednesday. “I 100 percent apologize. I can’t stress that enough. We’ve put too much time and effort into (covering high school sports) …

“It started in September, and the conversation went too far. They had it saved and it was sent to Ralph (Amsden).”

Jeff Edgington said on Wednesday that police have not contacted the brothers.

He said that no AIA representative had contacted them to let them know their credentials have been revoked. But he said they had stopped going to events after the story broke on Twitter, and they were receiving hate messages. He said they assumed they wouldn’t be allowed into games.

Zach Edgington could not be reached. Both men have locked their Twitter accounts.

Amsden’s thread has led to more people coming forward. On Wednesday, he said he had heard from at least 30 and counting.

“People started disclosing to me that they had had similar situations, and it was very overwhelming,” Amsden said. “That has continued through today.”

Amsden said he had talked to police and the FBI. The FBI would neither confirm nor deny that it is investigating.

So far, the only tangible repercussion has been the ban from the AIA.

A few hours after the thread was started, the AIA said in an email that the brothers’ media credentials had been revoked. Jason Jewell, owner of 24-7Football.com, had reached out to the high school sports governing body about the twins, according to Amsden.

“We were presented information,” Hines told The Republic in a phone interview. “We want the people that are covering and working with high school sports to have great intentions in life. There were some concerns, thus their credentials were removed.

“Concerns become a big deal. I just want our kids to have the most positive experience. They don’t need any adult or people reaching out to them that are not professional.”

The twins obtained their sideline credentials through ScoreStream, a company that describes itself as a site where fans can post pictures and comments about games. The company sought to distance themselves from the twins this week.

In a tweet on Tuesday, ScoreStream said that “neither of these guys have ever worked or been employed by ScoreStream.” However, the site had tagged them in tweets over the years. They had most recently tweeted at one of the brothers on April 25.

Amsden said in a Periscope video Tuesday night, “The Edge twins are not media. They do not make content. Less than 10 percent of the time they were writing stories for somebody.”

Officials from at least one program, Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep, had banned the twins from its campus last fall.

“Notre Dame Preparatory learned in September 2017 that a high school sports reporter had sent inappropriate messages through social media to one of its students,” the school and the Diocese of Phoenix said in a statement.

“School administration immediately interviewed the student, who was 18 years old at the time, and notified the parents and local law enforcement. The school had prohibited the two men from attending any future athletic events and warned them not to contact students.”

According to Amsden, the ban had come after someone with the Snapchat username “edgetwin” had pretended to be a Chaparral student and had asked a Notre Dame Prep baseball player to send a video of himself streaking through his house and doing naked push-ups. The Snapchat conversation was shared in Amsden’s Twitter thread.

The diocese was not able to confirm if the screenshots and the September 2017 incident were the same.

Other schools have now banned the brothers, following the lead of the AIA.

“The AIA asked us to ban those individuals, and our schools have complied,” said Erin Helm, a public information officer for Scottsdale Unified School District. “Beyond that, we are deferring to the AIA, as we don’t have any information about victims or other details.”

The situation has also led the AIA to re-examine its credentialing process. Hines said there will be greater vetting in credentialing media in the future.

Currently, credentials are issued to organizations that the AIA deems reputable. The organization must provide to the AIA a list of names of those using the credentials, Hines said.

“As we go forward, we’re going to pay attention to who the organization is putting in,” Hines said. “I don’t know what (the twins’) future is with the organization. They don’t apply to us directly.

“I think the organization that hires them is aware that they’re vouching for them, that they’re going to represent that organization professionally. We’ve had others apply and not receive credentials.”

Hines said that AIA doesn’t have control over credentialed media members for regular-season games. During AIA state tournament play, the AIA would be able to control which media members enter the venues, he said.

For more, visit AZCentral.com

Latest

More USA TODAY High School Sports
Home
https://usatodayhss.com/2018/publishers-tweet-led-to-ban-of-twins-aia-to-review-media-credentialing-process
Publisher's tweet led to ban of twins; AIA to review media credentialing process
I found this story on USA TODAY High School Sports and wanted to share it with you: %link% For more high school stories, stats and videos, visit http://usatodayhss.com.