MIDVALE — Three student athletes were granted hardship waivers and will be allowed to play high school sports this year — while three others were not — a hearing panel decided on Tuesday.
A panel made up of members of the Utah High School Activities Association's Board of Trustees and Executive Committee heard five cases involving six student athletes Tuesday morning.
Junior Dayon Goodman transferred from Alta to Kearns in August and was granted a hardship waiver after he and his parents said they moved him because of racial issues. That means he will be eligible to play basketball for the Cougars this winter.
His father, Thomas Goodman, said he and his wife moved to the Alta area from Indiana to provide better opportunities to their children. But over time, they realized their children were dealing with problems caused by subtle incidents of racism.
"One incident led to another and then incidents involving my older son led to incidents with my younger son and to other children," said Thomas Goodman. "It wasn't just one incident, and that's when I began to think something ain't right."
When an incident involving a young man dressing in a white hood (alleged to look like a Ku Klux Klan hood) at an assembly in the spring was reported in the media, the Goodmans said their children began reporting more problems to them.
"There were so many times I wanted to address different incidents, but my kids said it would make it worse if I went up there," said Genell Goodman. "They said it would make it worse on them."
Alta basketball coaches and administrators said they extended a hand of friendship and help to Dayon a number of times.
"Obviously what happened at Alta last spring was difficult for a lot of people," said new principal Fidel Montero. "But Alta does care about what's going on. They do care about the atmosphere of the school, and we're working hard to improve it."
Rather than racial issues, Alta head basketball coach Jim Barker suggested it was sports that lured Goodman from Alta to Kearns. Goodman's GPA dropped below a 2.0 when the basketball season finished last winter, and Alta coaches did not allow him to play in spring tournaments or practices. They were informed by other coaches that Goodman was playing in a spring AAU game with Kearns' team, and they felt that incident began his decision to change schools.
Thomas Goodman, however, said it was a conversation with an assistant principal at Kearns that swayed him. He said he felt the family would have more support academically at Kearns.
Kearns head basketball coach Dan Cosby said he's known the Goodman family since Thomas Goodman and he met at church nearly two decades ago. Dayon and John Bora, Goodmans brother, approached the coach about playing on the Kearns team.
"We go to the same church, and he approached me on a Sunday and asked if he could play with us," said Cosby, who said he called the UHSAA to make sure he wasn't breaking any rules by allowing Goodman to play in the spring games. "I wasn't recruiting him. They were having fun, and that's what this is about … I am part of the Coaches Association and I try to do things the right way."
Cosby said he didn't know Thomas Goodman had decided to move Dayon to Kearns until after the boy was registered.
It was an emotional hearing for all involved, but especially for Thomas Goodman and Alta assistant basketball coach Curtis Hill, whose daughter is a friend of Dayon Goodman's sister. Both are white men with black children and Hill expressed a deep affection for the Goodman's children, but said his own children are thriving at Alta.
"As educators, we want to take care of all children and help prepare them," Hills said. "If we didn't do that for you, I'll apologize. I think we did a pretty decent job of it. We do our best as coaches and teachers, and I can think of no better place for my African American sons to go (than Alta)."
The other hearings were shorter and less emotional. Two student athletes were granted a hardship waiver, while three others were not.
Hailame Kaufusi was granted a waiver to play at Lehi. His family moved from Westlake boundaries to Lehi, but there was confusion about whether or not it was a full family move. The panel ruled that it was and granted him eligibility.
Joshua Sorensen moved from Hawaii to Lehi and wants to play football, basketball and tennis at Westlake. He said he moved from Hawaii because of pressure to get involved in drugs, gangs and violent activities. He was ridiculed for his LDS religion, and it got to the point that his mother had him take classes online his junior year.
He is living with a family friend in the Westlake boundaries, and the panel granted him a waiver so he will be allowed to play sports.
Two brothers, Siale and Mahonri Makalio, were denied hardship waivers after transferring from Taylorsville to Hunter. The boys, a sophomore and a junior, can still attend school at Hunter, but they are not eligible to play sports for one year.
Their family is in the process of buying a house, but has not sold the house they're living in, nor do they know if they will be allowed to purchase the house in Hunter's boundaries yet. So the panel denied the hardship request.8 comments on this story
The last hearing involved sophomore football player Connor de Martinez, who played football at Taylorsville High as a ninth-grader last year, but wanted to attend high school at West Jordan as a sophomore. His mother said she didn't know playing at Taylorsville in ninth grade would prevent him from playing at another school when he chose his high school as a sophomore.
Because all student athletes are asked to sign a tryout checklist that includes an item on eligibility, the panel did not grant him a hardship waiver.