Williams Field’s (Gilbert, Arizona) offensive line suffered a big blow with senior tackle Noah Nelson ineligible for violating the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s non-school participation rule.
The length of his ineligibility will be determined by the AIA’s appeals process.
Nelson said he wasn’t deliberately trying to circumvent the rules when he went one-on-one with Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.) freshman defensive lineman Chandler Davis at a training facility this week.
During a training session at an East Valley facility this week, the two faced off in a one-on-one drill. It was a spontaneous challenge that lasted maybe 10 seconds, according to Hamilton Athletic Director Brett Palmer.
Williams Field is holding Nelson out for Friday night’s game against Queen Creek Casteel, coach Steve Campbell said, out of precaution, as the school appeals the case to try to restore his eligibility.
AIA Executive Director David Hines said he had a discussion with Williams Field, but he couldn’t comment more than that. Hines said there is an appeal process for this violation.
— Noah Nelson (@NoahNelson70) September 27, 2019
Palmer said that the challenge between the two linemen was videotaped and posted on social media, leading to scrutiny by the AIA.
The AIA bylaw states:
“A student who is a member or becomes a member of a school team shall not practice, have practiced or compete with any other group, club, organization, association, etc., in that sport during the interscholastic season of competition. This rule applies to the following team sports:football, baseball, basketball, volleyball, soccer, softball, track relay and swimming relay teams. For purposes of this rule, the interscholastic season of competition shall begin with the first regularly scheduled game and conclude with that particular team’s final game. Any student violating the above rule shall forfeit his/her eligibility for a minimum of the balance of the season for that sport or up to a maximum of one calendar year.
“DETERMINATION: An individual student may take private lessons anytime except during the school day or during school practice sessions. Schools shall not pay for, arrange or in any way provide these individual private lessons. Individual private lessons shall not be used to circumvent or evade the non-school participation rule and any such use of private lessons will be considered a violation of the non-school participation rule.”
Nelson, 6-foot-8, 305 pounds, committed in the spring to Oklahoma. He was an anchor to one of the state’s top offensive lines. Williams Field (3-2) has been on a roll heading into Friday night’s game against 4-1 Queen Creek Casteel, winning its last three games.
“We had a student confirmed off-site training,” Palmer said. “Unfortunately, it violated the AIA 14.4 non-school participation bylaw and he’s ineligible for the rest of the year. Right now, we’re seeking any type of appeal process. But he’s not playing (Friday night).
“The kid unfortunately was training with another student from another school and unfortunately it violated the bylaw. He was playing freshman all year and this week was brought up to varsity.”
Nelson released the following statement:
On Monday September 23rd I went to Athletes Performance Enhancement (APE) to attend a strength training workout session, from 7:30pm to 9pm that night. I regularly go to APE for strength and conditioning sessions almost daily, although I have never at any point gone to APE for football specific training. Halfway through my work out that evening a freshman kid, who regularly trains at the gym, came to me and asked “Could you help me? I am moving up to varsity and could I take a few one-on-one reps against you so I can prepare?”, I replied with okay. We then moved to the turf inside the gym where we did 2 reps of one-on-one, at that time there were no trainers anywhere near us when we talked about it or when we began to engage each other in one-on-ones. A trainer then came up behind us and started recording us without our knowledge, while the 2 reps took place. During this whole session no coaching from any trainer occurred and I was just trying to help the younger athlete out. I never thought him asking me to help him or me helping him would be an AIA violation.