Valdosta High School’s football program, the winningest in high school football history, was severely punished for its use of ineligible players earlier this week.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Consitution, the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) fined Valdosta $7,500 and banned its football team from the 2021 postseason after ruling five players ineligible. With those players declared ineligible, Valdosta’s seven wins in 2020 are likely to be forfeited.
GHSA Executive Director Robin Hines announced the fines as $1,000 for each of the five ineligible players and tacked on an additional $2,500 fine for “lack of institutional control” in a letter to Valdosta school superintendent Todd Cason.
“The evidence is clear that this is not an isolated instance (of recruiting) and that Coach [Rush] Probst (sic) and members of the Valdosta Touchdown Club have on other occasions contacted other student-athletes or their families and provided gifts of money, payment of utilities and housing incentives in an attempt to persuade those student-athletes to transfer to Valdosta High School.”
Among the players ruled ineligible were star quarterback Jake Garcia, a four-star recruit who signed with the University of Miami in December. Garcia transferred from Narbonne (Calif.) High School to Valdosta to play his senior season in the fall while California’s high school football season remained on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Garcia played one game at Valdosta before being declared ineligible and transferred to Grayson High School, where he led the nationally-ranked Rams to a Georgia AAAAAAA state title.
Propst, who has won 299 games in his high-profile high school coaching career, was placed on administrative leave in March for allegedly asking former Valdosta booster club director Mike Nelson for “funny money” to help players he recruited to play at Valdosta and their families with paying for rent and other expenses. He remains on administrative leave following the GHSA’s ruling.
Valdosta is the first major high school sports program in Georgia to be hit with a postseason ban since Milton’s 2013 boys basketball team after it used summer sessions to evaluate potential transfers into the program.