PHOENIX – Sunnyside’s wrestling team was placed on advisement by the Arizona Interscholastic Association on Monday, but the Blue Devils will have to wait at least another month to find out whether they will get to keep their section championship and state runner-up trophy from last season.
After hearing from a district official and a parent on Monday morning, the AIA executive board voted to hold off on the decision on rescinding forfeits until next month’s regular-scheduled session on Sept. 16. The vacated wins are a result of a self-reported violation by the school, involving student eligibility.
“Why we tabled it is because the board wants them to clear up what really happened here and then come back and ask for the rescinding of the forfeits,” said Harold Slemmer, AIA executive director.
Sunnyside reported the violation of Rule 15.5.1 after it was discovered that a wrestler, who transferred from Ironwood Ridge, did not live in the school’s attendance zone.
N.J. Utter, director of college readiness for the Sunnyside district, spoke on behalf of the school, appealing the forfeits of all contests beyond Jan. 1 of this year, including those of the section and state tournaments.
The father of the student, who the Star has not named, was also present at Monday’s meeting in Phoenix and addressed board members, challenging the original report submitted by the school.
“We only talk to member schools and the member school brought a violation forward so we’re listening to the violation,” Slemmer said. “That’s our reality. Whatever they say happened, happened. Never have we had a parent come and refute what the member school was reporting.”
Having the parent question the factually of the report in front of the board was “totally inappropriate,” Slemmer said, especially since the school was petitioning to have its wins restored.
A major factor in deciding whether to grant the school’s appeal will be based on the productivity of the individual, Slemmer said. Sunnyside crowned three individual champions and finished 35 points behind first-place Mesa Mountain View at the Division I state meet in February.
The matter was revealed roughly two months after the season when the student was found in possession of illegal drugs on campus, according to the violation report on the meeting agenda provided by the AIA. As a result of the incident, it was also revealed that his parents submitted a false lease agreement and a false driver's license, the report says.
Sunnyside's wrestling team is coached by Anthony Leon, who is entering his fifth year with the program. The Blue Devils finished in a tie for fourth place in 2012, won the championship the following season and have placed second each of the last two years.