Aia Gets Tough On School Brawls

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The Show Low High School wrestling program has received a warning and an advisement from the Arizona Interscholastic Association for its role in a Jan. 15 brawl at the Coolidge Invitational.

The incident in Coolidge, which involved Eloy Santa Cruz and Show Low fans and athletes, was similar to a disturbance at Wilson Dome several years ago.

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The AIA is taking action to curb the growing number of violent scuffles at high school sporting events.

In the dome incident, police had to remove both Show Low and Payson fans who had become unruly. One Show Low man was eventually charged with disorderly conduct.

During the incident, PHS coaches had the good sense to exit the dome to provide whatever support they could to the couple of police officers who were trying to defuse the situation.

The episode was an ugly one that should never have occurred at a high school sporting event.

The AIA was never involved in the disturbance, mostly because wrestlers did not participate in it.

Following the brawl in Coolidge, Show Low Athletic Director Chris Holiday had the good sense of sportsmanship and fair play to submit what AIA Executive Director Dr. Harold Slemmer called, "a comprehensive, well-written report."

Santa Cruz, however, presented a limited violation report to the AIA which prompted Slemmer to recommend probation for the Dust Devil wrestling program.

The disciplinary action against both schools, which was doled out by the AIA executive board at a Feb. 22 meeting in Phoenix, will result in Santa Cruz not being allowed to participate in the state tournament.

For receiving a warning, the Show Low wrestling program is no longer eligible for AIA excellence awards, and if another incident occurs, the Cougars could be put on probation.

The advisement Show Low received is simply a letter of caution. Santa Cruz officials have said they will appeal the penalty.

Slemmer said his office is noticing a growing increase in scuffles at high school sports events.

In today's sports culture, he said, some seem to think it's proper to start or become involved in brawls involving fans and athletes. Slemmer has pledged he and the AIA will take whatever actions necessary to curb the violence.

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