MIDVALE — Two high school football players were denied athletic eligibility after transferring to new high schools, while a third football player and a golfer were allowed junior varsity eligibility after their transfers.
The four teens were initially denied athletic eligibility and all asked for appeal hearings, which were held Tuesday morning at the Utah High School Activities Association office in Midvale.
Sophomore Brandon Moliere was denied athletic eligibility after he transferred to Timpview from Provo. He alleged bullying and racial discrimination, but Provo High’s administration said they had no reports of problems while he was a student at the school.
“My concern is that we, as a school, were never notified of any problems,” said assistant principal Boyd McAfee at the Tuesday morning hearing. “If Brandon was going through a difficult time, dealing with his peers, we weren’t informed and we weren’t allowed the opportunity to deal with the conflict. We were never given the chance to address it.”
Moliere’s mother, Murielle, said her son didn’t report the incidents because he feared they would get worse.
“Fear is a way powerful tool,” she said. “He was afraid if I reported it, it would backfire to him.”
Timpview principal Todd McKee asked the UHSAA hearing panel to consider that sometimes athletics is a valuable tool for parents and educators.
“We need to be very cautious about not minimizing the student’s experience,” said McKee. “As a school, you’d like the opportunity to deal with it at the school level, but families deal with it differently. And I would urge the panel to consider the role of athletics in the lives of some students. For many of them, it’s the hook that keeps them engaged in school. I fear for some of those students that if that hook is taken away, what’s left for them?”
McAfee suggested the move was simply made so Moliere could compete on a more successful team.
“It’s really difficult for programs that are struggling to compete with programs that are established,” said McAfee. “I would hope the panel would consider the evidence, or lack of evidence, because Provo High would have supported him in addressing his struggles, and supported him transferring if it didn’t work. We’d like to develop a program, but it’s difficult when athletes find a reason for hardship and move across town; it’s very difficult to compete.” The panel found there wasn’t sufficient evidence for granting Moliere a hardship waiver, so he will not be eligible to play football for Timpview.
Junior Carson Vance was denied athletic eligibility after transferring from Skyline to Judge. He asked for the waiver, saying he left Skyline because he felt excluded from many social activities because he was not a member of the LDS Church.
“I think he doesn’t really fit in,” said his mom, Cheryl Vance. “It was hurtful and exclusionary.”
She said he hadn’t been working out with the team, choosing instead to keep in shape on his own.
“He’s feeling quite depressed,” Vance said. “The one thing he really wanted to do was play football. This is something he can belong to. We were not aware of the transfer rules. I didn’t know (athletics) would be an issue.”
Two other students, a golfer and a football player, were allowed to transfer with sub-varsity eligibility. One is a junior golfer transferring from Alta to Corner Canyon, while the other is a junior football player moving from Juan Diego to Corner Canyon.
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