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High school football: California transfers still fighting for a chance to play

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 19 2012 12:10 p.m. MDT

SANDY — DJ Fa'agata is asking a judge to reconsider his decision to not let him play football for Jordan High.

In a motion filed Monday, Fa'agata's attorney, Laura Lui, asked Judge Keith Kelly to reconsider his decision to deny the teen a temporary restraining order (TRO) and preliminary injunction. The motion Kelly denied last week was filed on behalf of Fa'agata and his cousin Cliff Betson, both of whom moved to Utah in May to live with relatives.

They told a hearing panel of the Utah High School Activities Association they moved to Utah to escape the violence and turmoil of their California neighborhoods. The panel, however, didn't think the move met the criteria for a hardship exception to the transfer rule, and they also ruled the boys ineligible because the relative with whom they now live filed paperwork with forged signatures on it. The boys denied any knowledge of the forgeries, as did their parents and Jordan High officials.

When their guardian Stuart Tua was asked if he signed the names of the California principals, he invoked his fifth amendment right to not incriminate himself.

The boys took their fight to play football to Third District Court, and asked Kelly for a temporary restraining order that would allow them to play immediately. The judge ruled against them saying they hadn't shown there would be irreparable harm if the injunction or TRO wasn't granted or that they would likely prevail at trial.

The UHSAA has 10 days to respond to Monday's motion, and then Lui can respond after that. The judge can either rule without a hearing or hold a second hearing to consider the arguments.

"We'll oppose it," said UHSAA attorney Mark Van Wagoner. "(Lui) hasn't amended her pleadings in any way, so (the judge) has nothing there but what she's filed (previously)."

He said the judge normally wouldn't reconsider a decision unless he was presented with new information that wasn't available at the first hearing.

Fa'agata's mother has since moved to Utah and the teen is also hoping to get another hearing in front of the Utah High School Activities Association to consider an application for a full family move.

Van Wagoner said they were expecting to reconvene the original hearing panel next Tuesday. The rules don't allow for another hearing, so UHSAA officials are re-opening the original hearing.

Betson and Fa'agata are still attending Jordan High and practicing with the team even though they are not allowed to play in games. Both are seniors, and Lui's most recent motion says Fa'agata has a scholarship offer from Utah State University.

email: adonaldson@desnews.com

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