Hamilton football program placed on probation by AIA for recruiting violation

Hamilton High School’s football program has been placed on probation, for a recruiting violation. It’s a harsher punishment than what they received for the hazing scandal in 2017.

At that time, players were accused of sexually assaulting young teammates.

Community members, players and parents posted on social media on Monday that it would unfairly affect the children instead of the coach allegedly responsible.

“It’s one of Arizona’s legendary football teams,” Kevin McCabe said.

McCabe has covered high school sports in the state for more than 40 years, he understands Hamilton’s reputation and the seriousness of this decision.

“I’m sad for everything because it casts such a dark shadow over all high school sports,” McCabe said.

This decision means the Hamilton High School varsity team will not be eligible to play in the postseason.

“They’ll get a chance to play their season, so they’ll get offers and opportunities for movies and college scholarships,” McCabe said. “But you play to win state championships.”

The AIA determined that in June, assistant coach and defensive coordinator Tim Dougherty sent a direct message via social media to a player at another high school. The AIA said the post is a violation of their rules.

Hamilton said he suspended Doughtery for three games, but the AIA still handed down probation on Monday.

The school said in a letter to parents that it was disappointed but was working on the follow-up, including a possible appeal.

McCabe said he thinks other high school programs are watching.

“I think they’re all stepping back and saying wait a minute what’s happening in Hamilton, we’ve got to make sure that doesn’t happen here,” McCabe said.

“We are obviously very disappointed. It is sad that children are being punished for something they did not participate in. We know that our district and our school will fight vigorously for what these boys have worked so hard for. The opportunity to play in the playoffs must not be taken away from them,” Gridiron Booster Club said in a statement.

This is just one of the problems the Hamilton football team has been facing recently. Just five years ago, allegations of hazing led to criminal charges against gamers.

But McCabe told ABC15 that this situation happens quite frequently in the Valley.

“It’s happening a lot in the Valley, recruiting, because there are open registrations,” McCabe said.

One parent, Richard Montoya, said he believed there were major problems with the program. These issues include the way coaches talk to players.

“What I saw for the first time was how the players used profanity directly at the head coach in training and there was nothing,” Montoya said.

He told ABC15 he’s taken his son out of the Hamilton program and his family is fighting for a hardship exception through the AIA. He said it would allow his son to play his full season this year at Mesquite High School.

Montoya said he wants the coaches to be held accountable.

“Why don’t they consider maybe going after the AD, the head coach, Tim Dougherty,” Montoya said.

ABC15 asked Hamilton about Montoya’s complaints. They responded with this statement.

“Although the student is not attending Hamilton, based on information provided at the time of these allegations, an investigation found nothing to support the allegations.”

Montoya told ABC15 he spoke to the administration, but they didn’t take his claims seriously.

The AIA’s executive director said he knew Monday’s decision would impact students.

“It’s a tough decision because adults make decisions that affect children,” said AIA Executive Director David Hines. “And in our system, as in all 50 associations across the country, when decisions are made on probation, they affect children. What’s a challenge for the AIA is that it’s about personnel issues with school districts and this is not within the jurisdiction of the AIA. We cannot put things on a personnel issue on a coach through our authority. This must be done by the district. “

The AIA said Hamilton had 10 days to appeal the probation.

Queen Creek High School baseball was also placed on probation Monday, the school also has the same deadline to appeal.

Ryan H. Bowman