by: Mike Petchenik Updated:
MILTON, Ga. - One of Georgia’s most successful high school basketball coaches is categorically denying he broke any rules when recruiting players to his winning teams.
David Boyd, who has won six state titles at four different schools, resigned Monday from Milton High School after the school announced it had self-reported violations of “undue influence” of players to the Georgia High School Association.
On Tuesday, school officials declined to elaborate on the specific allegations or who raised them.
“It’s unfortunate news, but we’re moving forward,” said principal Clifford Jones.
Fulton County Schools athletic director, Dr. Steven Craft, said the system had been investigating the claims for weeks and would be turning over its findings to the GHSA.
“We need to make sure all of our coaches, both head coaches and assistant coaches, understand all of the GHSA rules and regulations,” he said, adding that “undue influence” describes a number of scenarios, including “inviting someone to attend a game or practice or giving influence to help convince somebody to come to your school.”
Under Boyd’s leadership, Milton has won two state championships in the last four years, taking runner-up the other two times.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, members of the Milton dynasty include high-profile transfers, including Shannon Scott (now at Ohio State), Dai-Jon Parker (Vanderbilt), Shaquille Johnson (Auburn) and Charles Mann (University of Georgia).
Other players who reportedly joined the team include college prospects DaQuain Watts from North Springs, Shawn O’Connell from Roswell and Isaiah Manderson of Westside-Augusta. The school also reportedly attracted out-of-state phenoms Johnnie Vassar from Indiana and Zach Hodskins from Tennessee. The AJC reported the team plays games in Illinois, North Carolina and Florida in the upcoming season and was almost certain to have top-25 national rankings.
In an exclusive interview with Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik, Boyd denied the allegations.
“If helping players, some of whom may be coming from the other side of the tracks, if helping those players be successful, do well in school, become good citizens, earn scholarships, play in a winning program; if that’s undue influence, then guilty as charged,” he told Petchenik.
Boyd said he resigned from his position because school officials told him he could no longer coach at Milton High School.
“When I did meet with the county (athletic director), he told me it was time for me to move on, told me I didn’t care about anything except basketball, didn’t care anything about teaching,” said Boyd. “All that is just very untrue.”
Boyd said he received emails and phone calls almost daily from parents of prospects interested in the school. In each case, he said he never offered them anything to transfer.
“The program sells itself. The only thing we offer is a great school, an outstanding program and an opportunity to compete. That’s what I told each and every parent,” he told Petchenik.
Boyd said he recently had a parent of a top player call to ask him why he hadn’t reached out to their family.
“He said eight other high school coaches had called him,” said Boyd. “(He) wanted to know why I hadn’t called him. I said, ‘because it’s against the rules. That’s why.’”
Boyd said when a student did transfer to Milton, he did his “due diligence” to ensure they followed all of the eligibility requirements. He also said he did allow outside players to work out with his teams but denies it was ever a try-out or a way to entice a transfer, something he said the county accused him of doing.
“We opened the gym up,” he said. “Kids who wanted to participate were able to come in, compete. We didn’t turn anybody away.”
But some disagree with Boyd’s methods. Petchenik heard from Micah Thomas, whose son transferred to Milton from Roswell’s Centennial High School to play for Boyd. She said her son didn’t make the varsity squad because the roster was filled with transfers.
“I don’t fault the families for moving their kids to a better situation. I moved to get a better school,” said Thomas. “I fault the system for not enforcing the rules.”
Thomas likened the competitive high school basketball atmosphere to “child prostitution.”
“There are agents with some of these kids and it’s turning into professional sports at a high school level,” she told Petchenik. “(That) erodes the sense of community and erodes everybody’s chance to have their child fulfill their dream.”
Thomas said her son transferred to another school because he felt he'd never get playing time with blue chip transfers filling up the varsity roster.
“There’s something the community loses when this happens,” she said. “It’s pervasive and it continues to happen year after year. I frankly thought it would never end.”
A spokesman for the GHSA told Petchenik the association was waiting to receive Fulton County’s investigation before moving forward. When asked if the school would have to vacate its titles, Steven Figueroa told Petchenik he would have “no further comment” until the report was received.
Boyd told Petchenik he doesn’t believe his coaching days are over.
“I have absolutely no regrets, none whatsoever,” he said. “I have my chin held high.”
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