The stunning actions of now former Mountain Pointe (Ariz.) assistant football coach Justin Hager, who reportedly leaked game plans and other details to coaches at opposite schools, has now spawned a full secondary investigation into any coaches with ties to Hager, particularly the coaches who received emails with game tips from Hager.
“Our concern, really, is what he put out there and whether there was any communication back and forth between other coaches and this individual,” AIA Executive Director David Hines told AZFamily.com
Where things get particularly tricky is in the enforcement of penalties of any programs where it is determined opposing coaches did interface with Hager and use his intelligence to win a game. While it’s clear any violation from such an event would fall under the responsibilities of the coaches themselves, the AIA holds no jurisdiction over coaching actions and thus would have to penalize the team, and not the coach, for such communication, per AZFamily.com.
What does that mean? Per ArizonaFamily.com’s interpretation, schools that are found to have coaches who corresponded with Hager back and forth and gave clear indications they would use the information could face suspensions from the state playoffs, despite the fact that the student athletes themselves had no involvement with the attempted cheating.
Where the cheating scandal goes from here remains to be seen, with the school that are known to have received the emails expected to launch their own internal investigations. How vigorous those investigations prove — and whether any additional penalties come from them — are sure to be controversial in the weeks and months ahead.