Aia Proposal Could Spell Trouble For Coaches

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An Arizona Interscholastic Association proposal that would severely put crimps in how high school coaches conduct their off-season programs could soon become reality.

The AIA's Legislative Council will vote March 7 on the highly controversial proposal that has been studied by Arizona high school athletic directors for the past several months.

Most all states have some rules that regulate off-season coaching, but in Arizona such rules are vague.

The new proposal states "a coach shall not coach, organize or in any way be connected, associated or affiliated with their own school team or individual out of season during the school year."

It also states, "a coach shall not require participation in any out-of-season camp, clinic or program."

The proposal does not restrict coaches from having contact with their athletes during the summer months.

If the proposal is passed, it would eliminate spring football and possibly the spring freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling program that has been an integral part of the Longhorn program since former coach Dennis Pirch founded the team in 1973.

Coach Dave LaMotte, who replaced Pirch two years ago, said he is opposed to any legislation that would restrict a coach's contact with his athletes.

PHS girls' basketball coach Krystal Garvin said she wondered it the proposal will prevent her from having any contact with her players out-of-season. She wants to know that if she hosts evening open gym in the fall, can she show a youngster how to shoot a free throw without violating the proposed rule?

PHS baseball coach Teddy Pettet predicts the new rule would not affect his program significantly because most of his off-season program is conducted in the summer.

Payson High School athletic director Dave Bradley, who is one of seven Class 3A athletic directors on the Legislative Council, said the AIA proposal is more directed at the large 5A schools where athletes compete in only one sport usually year around. But, he concedes, the rule could be the end of what some PHS coaches do in the off-season.

AIA officials say the proposal was made after receiving complaints that some off-season programs are too demanding on young athletes. Those complaints were mostly directed at coaches who conduct club teams during out-of-season competition.

AIA officials also contend that the proposal would help coaches remove some of the burdens of running extensive off-season programs by limiting "uncompensated involvement."

The proposal, officials say, also would encourage diversity by allowing coaches to coach more than one sport.

When the proposal reaches the Legislative Council in March, it is expected to create a hotly contested debate.

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