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High school football: 2 Jordan Beetdiggers take eligibility ruling to court

Published: Thursday, Sept. 6 2012 10:45 p.m. MDT

MIDVALE — Two Jordan High students will take their fight to play football in Utah to court.

Two lawsuits were filed on behalf of Dynamite-Jones Fa'agata and Clifford Betson, both seniors, in 3rd District Court Thursday afternoon. The separate lawsuits filed by the same attorney, Laura Lui, who represented the boys in a hearing in front of the Utah High School Activities Association on Tuesday, asks the court to allow the boys to play football this season.

Fa'agata and Betson are second cousins who moved to Utah from California to live with the same relative — a mother's cousin and his wife. Their parents gave Tangikina Tua legal custody of the boys on Aug. 17, which the lawsuit states should constitute a full family move and would make the boys eligible under the UHSAA rules.

UHSAA attorney Mark Van Wagoner received a copy of the lawsuit late Thursday and said it didn't raise any issue the association hasn't seen and battled successfully in court in the past.

The lawsuit calls the unanimous decision "arbitrary," and asks that the court allow the boys to play football at Jordan. It also reiterates that the boys were dealing with dangerous situations in their daily lives and that constitutes a hardship and should be enough to grant the students a waiver.

The boys were denied a hardship by the panel, but they were also declared ineligible for dishonesty as the signatures of the principals of their former schools were forged. Both Jordan High administrators and the boys denied any knowledge of the forged signatures.

Tua's husband, Stuart Tua, filed the paperwork on behalf of the boys, but when asked by the panel chairman if he signed the names of the principals he invoked his fifth amendment right not to incriminate himself and refused to answer.

Neither Fa'agata and Betson have played in any of Jordan's games, although they have been practicing with the team.

email: adonaldson@desnews.com

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