MIDVALE The third time was not the charm for Utah Southvalley Community School.
USC staff members made their third attempt on Thursday to secure membership in the Utah High School Activities Association, this time as an associate member school, and they were soundly rejected by the association's board of trustees.
The board's vote was nearly unanimous (one member abstained) to deny USC membership, although the board did leave open the possibility that the school can reapply when it shows it has made progress with facilities and enrollment numbers.
That was the problem for USC, a private school that's currently in Murray and has plans to move to Herriman, as it did not provide the board of trustees with what it asked for the last time the school had a hearing. Among other things, the board wanted documents showing there was a deal in place to build the school in Herriman, and a concrete plan detailing where the school would play athletic contests next year. As an associate member school, USC would play a sub-varsity schedule if admitted into the UHSAA.
USC chairman Bob Jones said some legal issues prevented him from finalizing his deal with Herriman, but that it will be done shortly. That wasn't good enough for the board.
"For me, I have a concern that they say 'we have this, we have this, we have this,' and every meeting they come and it's another reason why they don't have this and this and this," said Terry Bawden, the Region 3 representative on the board of trustees. "For me, that was a major factor. If you say you're going to do something, do it. Then I think we can move forward."
USC's lack of facilities also worked against it in Thursday's hearing. USC principal Steve Marsing said the school had deals in place with Salt Lake Community College to play boys and girls basketball there, football at a field in Murray, and that it would play baseball at the University of Utah.
Again, not good enough for the board of trustees. Board members said the plan was too dependent on when other teams and schools would be using those facilities.
"I think that makes it tough to run a program," Bawden said.
UHSAA executive director Evan Excell said there was a precedent set for Thursday's decision. Abundant Life Academy, a private school in Kanab, was once denied membership into the UHSAA because it didn't have any facilities in place when it applied. The school volunteered to play all road games, but the plan was voted down.
"To me, the driving force behind Abundant Life and USC is the same: It will help them to recruit students to their school if they can say 'we are members of the UHSAA,'" Excell said. "That's just the opposite of what we think a member should be. We think they should have facilities in place and students in the school before they apply."
Marsing addressed concerns about USC becoming an associate member and recruiting students from other schools. He assured the board that the school would be a model member if allowed into the UHSAA.
USC also provided the board of trustees with signed construction contracts for what looks to be a spectacular campus in Herriman. But a few board members remained skeptical of the project coming together, mainly because there is still no deal in place with the city of Herriman."They've never come in and produced what they've said they were going to produce," Bawden said. "I think we need concrete stuff. I think that's very logical and acceptable for us to expect."
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