AIA clears schools named in leaked information scandal, expresses concern about reporting

The Arizona Interscholastic Association, including executive director David Hines (third from left), cleared schools that were named in the scandal involving a former Mountain Pointe coach. (Photo by John Levally/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX – The Arizona Interscholastic Association has decided not to punish any of the teams named in the Mountain Pointe High School recruiting scandal but did express concern that the story didn’t surface sooner.

“The best thing we can take away is, why is a school from out of state letting everybody know, ‘I think you’ve got a problem here.’ … The fact that this has gone on for a couple of years is disturbing,” AIA executive director David Hines said.

The AIA’s executive council met on Monday for the first time since news broke of former Mountain Pointe assistant coach Justin Hager leaking information to other schools.

Following a report that several Arizona high schools, including Pinnacle, Highland, Perry and Chandler, received sensitive game details from Hager’s burner email account, the AIA investigated the schools to see if any had benefited from the information shared to them.

“From the information that they were able to retrieve, there was no dialogue back and forth,” Hines said. “They did receive an email, and most of those were just deleted, but there was not a dialogue going back and forth between WalterPayton12 and the schools in question.”

Mountain Pointe football coach Rich Wellbrock only found out when an out-of-state school – Faith Lutheran High School in Las Vegas – contacted him about the information received.

Because emails suggested the sharing of information had been occurring for up to three years, the AIA is hoping to prevent issues like this one from reoccurring.

 “As an association, we need to police ourselves,” Hines said. “It’s appropriate for coaches to communicate to coaches, and athletic directors to communicate to athletic directors, ‘Hey we’ve received this, I think there’s something going on, you need to check into this,’ and end at that.”

Hines said that it should be the goal of the AIA, as well as coaches and athletic directors across the state, to ensure that all sports be held to a higher standard.

He also noted that not all the information shared by Hager was accurate, mentioning one email from the coach that said three players would miss a game because of injury. All three ended up playing.

The Tempe Union High School District Governing Board voted unanimously to dismiss Hager on Oct. 2. He had tried to quit but the board of governors chose not to accept his resignation so they could fire him.

Sports Reporter, Phoenix