MIDVALE The Utah High School Activities Association held a hearing Wednesday morning to get to the bottom of statements made in two different meetings by Bob Jones, the owner/chairman of the board of directors for a new private school USC at Woodland Hills about Cottonwood High School's football program.
Jones made a presentation in November to the UHSAA's Board of Trustees in hopes of gaining membership into the association for USC next fall. In talking about how the school came to be, Jones said he had made mistakes when he first decided to open the school, but that he was abiding by the rules.
During that meeting, associate director Rob Cuff asked Jones, "Do you mind sharing what you did wrong regarding the rules?"
Jones answered, according to a transcript of a tape recording of the hearing, with this: "There are two young men that participated in the Cottonwood program; when they were investigating whether they would play at Cottonwood or not, I was asked to purchase their family a home."
He said that he'd done that. In another meeting in January, Jones said Cottonwood assistant coach Scott Cate directed him to buy a home for the Katoa family.
Cate vehemently denied the allegations and responded by asking the UHSAA to investigate the allegations, as well as asking Jones and his attorney for a retraction of the allegations in writing.
"I would never jeopardize the integrity of the school, the program or the athletes by breaking the rules," Cate told the panel. "I came here to address the completely false statement that Bob Jones made about me."
Jones' attorney sent Cate three different letters, but only one was signed by Jones. The facts differ slightly in the letters, but what Jones admitted in Wednesday's hearing, and in one of the letters, is that Cate asked about rental properties for the father of a player who was already at Cottonwood High.
In fact, the player, Lynn Katoa, who graduated early and is now at Colorado University on a football scholarship, never lived with his father in the house Jones rented to Monte Katoa because Lynn and his siblings were in state custody.
What concerned the Board of Trustees after Jones' initial statement was that he bought a house for a player "investigating Cottonwood." But Wednesday Jones said he didn't say that. Instead, he said it was Jones himself who brought up buying the house and renting it to Monte Katoa after Cate asked if he had any rental property.
"It was disturbing to a lot of us," said panel member Teresa Theurer. "My question is why did that ever come out of your mouth? If what we're hearing today is really true, why did you even say that?"
Jones said, "Because I was asked what have you done in the past that's wrong."
When asked if buying the house was an effort to curry favor with the Cottonwood coaching staff so he could seek the head sophomore coaching job, he said, "Absolutely 100 percent."
The BOT panel will offer a report on the hearing to the full Board on April 3, but will likely not issue a formal ruling because they found no wrongdoing on the part of any Cottonwood coach.
"It was an action we took, mainly for informational purposes, to sort out the claims, to see what there was evidence of and what there wasn't," said UHSAA attorney Mark Van Wagoner. "There did not appear to me to be any reason to involve Cottonwood or Mr. Cate anymore."
Cate said he just wanted the chance to clear his name and the reputation of Cottonwood's program."Yes, I'm satisfied because the truth was told," said Cate.