MILTON, Ga. - Milton High School students and parents had mixed reaction Wednesday to a ruling that the school’s basketball program is banned from postseason play this year because of recruiting violations.
On Tuesday, the Georgia High School Association issued its investigative report into allegations reported by the school in September that former coach David Boyd had “undue influence” over recruits to this year’s team. Boyd resigned from his position when confronted by school officials.
According to the report, obtained by Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik through an open records request, the allegations were first brought to the school’s attention by Roswell High School basketball coach Ty Phillips after he claimed Boyd tried to steal away one of his players.
Among the GHSA’s key findings:
• Boyd was exchanging emails with parents of students who were enrolled at other schools as early as March 2012. However, the report said the investigation didn’t find evidence that Boyd initiated conversations with the parents.
• Coach Boyd invited non-students to summer workouts to assess their skill level, including sending emails to parents of possible recruits with the schedule of the practices. The report cited the case of Johnnie Vassar, a highly coveted recruit whom the report said attended practices, then went on YouTube to announce his intention to attend the school. Vassar ultimately transferred to another program.
• Boyd offered advice on where potential transfers should move, including to an apartment complex on Lexington Farms Drive, where the report said many of the transfers moved in order to achieve eligibility. Fulton County was investigating the residency status of players and allegations that some players were living in the apartments alone, while their parents lived out of the district. The report cited the case of graduate Charles Mann, who was ruled ineligible last year after the GHSA learned his family still lived in Henry County. The report said Mann’s family put their home on the market so he could be eligible, but have since taken it off and continue to live in Henry County.
• Boyd offered to give advice on potential transfers’ college prospects.
In an exclusive interview with Petchenik after his resignation, Boyd denied any wrongdoing.
“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 (I’m) guilty as charged,” he told Petchenik in September. “If I’m guilty of anything, it’s helping kids be successful who maybe ordinarily wouldn’t be at Milton if it weren’t for a good basketball program.”
Boyd declined to be interviewed about the ruling Tuesday, but in a text message to Petchenik said, “Undue influence is a broad brush.”
The GHSA put the school on probation, banned it from the regional and state tournament for the 2012-2013 season, and fined the school $1,000, the report said.
Outside the school Wednesday, students told Petchenik they were angered by the GHSA’s decision.
“I don’t think they should punish our whole school,” said junior John Drake. “I think we should be able to be in the post-season.”
One parent, who asked us not to name her, said she was disgusted by the situation.
“It’s not right. It’s absolutely not fair,” she said of the team’s recruiting methods. “This should have never happened because the principal has known it. All of the kids in the school knew it. C’mon. It’s the white elephant in the room.”
A spokeswoman for Fulton County schools said there is no evidence principal Clifford Jones was aware of the violations until they were reported to him.
“In fact, it was Mr. Jones who brought the allegation forward to the district’s attention,” said district spokeswoman Samantha Evans in an email to Petchenik. “Mr. Jones is committed to running athletic programs of integrity at Milton High. His priority is to get this situation behind him so that the school community can continue to focus on academic achievement.”