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.