MIDVALE Bountiful boys basketball coach Mike Maxwell adamantly denies ever trying to influence anyone athlete or not to come to Bountiful High School.
But because the Braves' sophomore basketball coach also coached at a nearby junior high, and out-of-boundary students, some of whom had variances to attend Bountiful, played in a team camp with Bountiful players and were coached by Maxwell, a second hearing panel made up of Utah High School Activities Association members upheld a previous decision by a hearing panel to find the school and the program in violation of the state's undue influence rules.
"I'm not trying to influence anybody," Maxwell told the hearing panel of seven people. "It really hurt when (the decision) came out ... I'm not recruiting anybody. It hurt to be called a cheater ... I'm asking this panel to clear my name."
The panel did modify the penalty imposed by the original group. Bountiful High was originally told it would have to keep track of every student attending Bountiful by name, grade and sport, who didn't live in its boundaries and provide that information to the UHSAA. The appeal panel eliminated that part of the penalty because they said they don't ask that of any other member school.
The panel did leave the rest of the penalty in place, which was, a letter of reprimand to the basketball program, one year probation and a $500 fine.
Bountiful principal Rick Astle said the school was appealing the decision because it was "a major black eye for Bountiful High School. We feel the allegations are false."
He explained that the Davis District's variance policy takes the decision about who gets accepted to each school out of the hands of principals. It's a random selection process, although there is an appeals process.
"Bountiful High School has a great tradition, and we don't feel in any way that we've crossed the line," Astle said. "We're not out recruiting kids to come to Bountiful High."
Woods Cross principal Vickie Ingram said the entire situation began when they sought clarification on the undue influence rule which states that one example of recruiting is "where a student or students who, during the school year prior to initial high school participation, have attended a school- or coach-sponsored camp or have been players together on a super-league, all-star, select or other traveling or combined team, attempt to establish eligibility at a member school which is outside the residential area for any of those students, such enrollment will be considered prima facie evidence of recruiting."
Woods Cross basketball coaches offered the UHSAA staff lists of students who had participated in summer programs at Bountiful but lived in Woods Cross boundaries. They then showed the number of students who then ended up enrolling at Bountiful. Astle offered different numbers that showed the vast majority of those students never even played varsity basketball.
That, however, the panel found, doesn't mean there wasn't undue influence involved in the students' decisions to switch schools.
Ingram said much of the problem is due to the fact that the students make friends playing in these camps and on these teams."They kids then want to go where their friends are," she said.