MIDVALE The Utah High School Activities Association's Board of Trustees voted to allow two new schools into the association as associate members, while they tabled a third application from a private school.
Utah South Valley Community School, also known as USC, made a presentation to be admitted as a 4A private school, but that was tabled due to lack of documentation and some issues regarding allegations made by the school's owner, Bob Jones, about Cottonwood High School's football program.
Liahona Prep Academy, a 1A private school in Pleasant Grove, and Maesar Academy, a 2A charter school in Lindon, were both admitted as associate members for junior varsity play next season. They aren't full members because neither will be offering winter sports due to facility issues.
USC, which currently has 220 students enrolled but hopes to grow to 1,000 by next fall, will have to wait a little longer to find out if they will be admitted into the UHSAA. While some thought the allegations between Jones and Cottonwood coaches were irrelevant, UHSAA attorney Mark Van Wagoner said they were relevant because the association has to believe its members will follow rules, including those that don't allow students to transfer for athletic reasons.
"We're like Congress," he said tongue-in-cheek. "We are the judge of our own members."
The controversy began in a November meeting, when Jones said he bought a house in the Cottonwood boundaries for a football player at the request of one of the Colts' coaches.
Cottonwood principal Dr. Garett Muse and head football coach Cecil Thomas attended Thursday's BOT meeting in order to respond to the allegations.
Thomas denied any Cottonwood coach directed Jones to buy a house for a player, although the player in question was already participating in the Cottonwood football program when the alleged request was made. Thomas and Muse said Jones came to them individually asking if he could coach the sophomore football team.
"(Bob Jones) was never involved in our high school program," said Thomas. The coach did say that one of his assistants told him Jones had "a bunch of rental properties" and might be able to find a home that one of the players' father could rent as he was moving to Utah from Texas to care for his sons.
"No house was ever bought," Thomas said.
Jones disagreed with Thomas saying that assistant coach Scott Cate, who wasn't at the meeting, asked him to buy a house for the father of two players and give him a job. Jones said the family was never asked to pay rent.
"I bought the house at Scott's request and there's documentation to prove that," he said. He also said a current Cottonwood assistant witnessed the conversations.
Muse also said that Jones met with him regarding his son's playing time on the basketball team.
"He mentioned that he'd paid my coach $100,000 to play his son and that he wasn't playing," Muse said. Muse then discovered that the coach and Jones were involved in a business venture and that's what the money was for.
"I was very shocked about the fact that Bob came in and told me that," Muse said. "It was ugly throughout basketball season ... I was displeased and didn't approve of a coach making a business deal with a parent. The next time I saw Bob he said, 'I want to be the sophomore football coach.'"
Jones denied telling Muse any of that, and instead said the discussion was about a coach pressuring a teacher to fail Jones' son so he wouldn't have to play him.
The BOT voted to table USC's application until officials provide the board with the construction contract, including schedule, plans and dates; a legal position from the city or county regarding the fast-track construction of the campus, which is located at 16500 South 3200 West; the contract to use the facilities at Granite High; and to cooperate fully in hearings regarding the allegations made by Jones against the Cottonwood coaches.Representatives of the BOT will likely hold a hearing on the matter some time before the BOT's next meeting which is scheduled for April 3.
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