Fairland plans to move forward

Published 3:27 pm Thursday, November 13, 2014

PROCTORVILLE — Fairland High School principal Chad Belville has two plans. One is for corrective action, the other is to just move on.
The school revealed at Monday’s school board meeting that the Ohio High School Athletic Association had levied penalties against the Fairland athletic program for violations of the association’s bylaws regarding recruiting in the football program.
The school was fined $5,000 with three years probation and a one-year ban on postseason play in all sports. However, the corrective action play would reduce all penalties.
“There’s no appeal process. They suspended us and fined us $5,000. If we submit a corrective action plan — which we’re in the process of doing — they have told us the penalty would be a two-year probation and it won’t affect postseason play or regular season play.”
Although the situation is unfortunate, Belville said the district plans to move forward.
“Whether you believe it happened or not is irrelevant. (The OHSAA) delivered the ruling. You can either accept it and move forward or you don’t and you suffer the penalty. We’ll do whatever we have to do to make sure the kids aren’t adversely affected,” said Belville.
“At the end of the day, it’ll be a two-year probation and a $2,000 fine.”
The probe centered on student/athletes allegedly being recruited from West Virginia. OHSAA assistant commissioner Jerry Snodgrass spearheaded the investigation.
Reports have said students not enrolled at the school participated in athletic functions.
Fairland officials have said that the students in question never played for the program during the regular season.
When contacted three weeks ago, an official for the OHSAA said the investigation was being discussed and no official decision had been made at that time. Penalties and information were then announced at the school board meeting.
Fairland head football coach Rashad Jackson said the accusations and penalties levied against the athletic program are unwarranted.
“I never had a fair shot. It’s all hearsay,” said Jackson. “Two kids said I told them to come play. There was no proof. I haven’t recruited any kid to play at Fairland. No kid enrolled at Fairland. There were no contacts with a cell phone or text messages.”
Jackson said there were no concrete facts and that the penalties were unfair to the Fairland students as well as himself.
“I want to clear my name. It’s embarrassing. It damages my name. Two 17-year-old kids say something and we get punished. There was never any formal proof of anything. I never spoke to an investigator. Any time I tried to speak to (an OHSAA official) no one was in the office,” said Jackson.
“Even if we did those things, the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. There are (other programs) who admitted to recruiting and got minor penalties. All the kids are punished and that doesn’t sound right.”

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