Hamilton football, Queen Creek baseball placed on probation

August 15, 2022 by Jose Garcia, AZPreps365

The Arizona Interscholastic Association’s executive board placed Hamilton High's football program and Queen Creek High School's baseball program on probation Monday.

The punishment will keep them out of the postseason during this school year and from receiving any awards. Hamilton violated the AIA’s recruitment rule (15.12) after an assistant football coach sent messages via social media to a football player at another school.

Queen Creek violated the maximum number of pitches guideline (21.1.5) during the 2022 spring baseball state tournament. Hamilton and Queen Creek each can appeal the probation within 10 days after being notified by the AIA. 

As part of the schools’ corrective actions before Monday's board meeting, Queen Creek’s head baseball coach and the Hamilton football assistant were disciplined for their actions. The AIA’s board discussed the Hamilton and Queen Creek cases during executive session just prior to Monday's probation vote.

During open session, AIA board vice president Jennifer Burks, the 6A rep on the AIA board and an athletic director in the Chandler District, recused herself during the Hamilton vote. Hamilton is in the Chandler District.

Renee Regoli, the board’s Arizona Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association rep and former athletic director in the Queen Creek District, did the same during the Queen Creek baseball vote. The rest of the AIA’s board members then voted to place Hamilton football and Queen Creek baseball on probation.

The AIA’s attorney, Mark Mignella, said this is likely the first time in his 38 years with the AIA that two AIA programs were put on probation on the same day.

“It’s a difficult decision because adults make decisions that affect kids,” AIA executive director David Hines said. “And in our system, as in all 50 associations across the country, when decisions are made on probation they affect kids. What is a challenge for the AIA is those are personnel matters with school districts and that is not part of the AIA purview. We cannot put things on a personnel matter on a coach through our authority. That has to be done through the district.”

Notes from Monday’s meeting

What follows are notes from Monday’s board meeting, the first one the board held during this school year.

  • Joe Paddock, the AIA’s associate executive director, informed the board about the changes the National Federation of State High School Associations made to its Level 1 Certification coursework. Potential new AIA head coaches must now take classes on protecting student athletes from abuse and sudden cardiac arrest. It’s required to hold a Level 1 Coaches Certification to be an AIA head coach.
  • The AIA’s board gave a thumbs up to the addition of a new track and field division and state championship meet. The AIA will introduce Division V just for 1A and 2A Conference schools in the spring. Division championship meets will still be held, but get ready for a best-of-the-best state meet also. A week after the division championships, the top qualifiers in each division will then advance the state championship, where they will compete against athletes from each of the five divisions. The state meet will start at 5 p.m. and end at about 10 p.m.
  • As part of the AIA’s Sportsmanship and Ethics campaign, the AIA would like schools to place a poster outlining spectator behavior at each of their game sites. The AIA is producing the poster. Some schools have already created their own posters.
  • The AIA received from the NFHS Foundation 15 wet bulb thermometers. The thermometers will help monitor the heat and humidity in the state. The readings will help teams determine if it’s safe to train during their summer sessions.
  • The NFHS provides and installs two Pixellot cameras for free for schools that want to stream their home events. Those cameras can be used for school security purposes as well. If a certain amount of cameras are installed, the AIA can receive money from the NFHS to distribute to AIA member schools. Through subscription revenue share and advertising opportunities, schools can also raise funds for their progams with the cameras. The game film can also be sent to your coaches automatically. 
  • The AIA might update its mission statement when a committee convenes to discuss the AIA’s next strategic plan.
  • A multiplier will help select the 8-team Open Division tournament for the first time. After the regular season, each 4, 5 and 6A teams’ final power rating will be multiplied by an assigned number (10 for 6A, 9 for 5A, 8 for 4A). Schools will then be re-seeded. The multiplier will help make the Open even more competitive.
  • The Open tournament will be staged in basketball for the first time this school year for boys and girls. A 32-team bracket comprised of teams with the highest power rating will compete in the open. The 4, 5 and 6A Conferences will vie for one of the 32 spots. After the first two rounds of the basketball Open, the remaining eight teams will be reseeded. The teams that lost in the first two rounds of the Open will continue playing in their respective conference tournaments. Taking a page from the NCAA, the AIA will host a Championship Media Day at the site of the Open basketball championships, Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
  • The AIA is considering adding girls flag football as an emerging sport for the 2023-24 school year. A committee will tackle the logistics to get that plan off the ground. The AIA would like to run the sport in the fall.
  • Hines introduced the AIA’s newest tournament coordinator, Mary Wimmer. Wimmer will run the AIA’s cross country and track and field state championship meets. She’ll take over for David Shapiro, who retired at the end of the last school year.

Agenda items approved

The following are some of the agenda items that were approved Monday:

  • Forty AIA lifetime passes.
  • AIA chief financial officer Denise Doser’s financial report.
  • The date for the AIA’s annual legislative council meeting was approved for March 3, 2023. The deadline for submitting agenda items is Jan. 20. The agenda mail-out deadline is Feb. 3.
  • Eleven varsity and 15 sub-varsity contests and or program cancellation requests.
  • Additional game requests from seven different programs.
  • The softball and baseball amendment proposals that were presented, including limiting non-varsity baseball and softball games to two hours and requiring softball and baseball coaches to wear helmets while in the coach’s box. 
  • The Student Eligibility Appeal/hardship eligibility (age rule) requests from Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind and Northwest Christian. One of the appeals from ASDB was tabled until the AIA receives more information from the school.

Schools violations

The following are rule violations schools self-reported and punishments each school received.

A warning places a school in jeopardy of being placed on probation if another violation of any rule or regulation is committed. A school will not be eligible for the Overall Excellence Award during the warning period.

Warning for:

Benson baseball. A baseball player punched two Scottsdale Christian players during the postgame handshake line after the 2A 2022 spring championship game.

Marana baseball. An assistant baseball coach used social media tell middle school students to practice and tryout during Marana's summer baseball workouts. The assistant coach also went to a middle school game and talked to students about Marana’s baseball program and summer programs. Only students enrolled at an AIA member school can participate in practices and tryouts.

River Valley football. The program violated the heat acclimatization rule by running live contact drills before it was allowed to.