All-Star Game In Search Of A Home

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Since being booted from the Northern Arizona University campus in the late 1980s to make way for the Arizona Cardinals, the Arizona Coaches Association All-Star football game has been in search of a permanent home.

Following the long stint in Flagstaff, the postseason games have been played at Eastern Arizona College in Thatcher, in Casa Grande and last year in Surprise.

The talk in state coaching circles is that holding the event in Surprise was too expensive and without some type of corporate sponsorship the games might have to be moved again, possibly to EAC.

On the Thatcher campus, there are dorms and cafeterias to house and feed players and coaches at a minimum expense to the ACA. Those facilities don't exist at other sites.

The all-star games, whatever the sport, are a reward for a job well done and represent one of the top achievements a prep player can attain.

If one of Arizona's corporate giants would step up to help foot the bill for the games, it would be a huge boost for all of the state's young players and their families, friends and fans.

It would also represent a feather in the cap of any CEO willing to become a contributing member of Arizona high school sports scene.

Top-notch facilities

Longhorn basketball coach Chuck Hardt returned from Chinle last week singing the praises of the Wildcats' newly built basketball arena, saying it was "state of the art and awesome."

Hardt was told a state contractor was originally hired who said he didn't know if he could live up to the expectations many had for the new facility. So, contractors that had earlier participated in the building of the America West and Glendale arenas were brought in to do the two-year-long job.

Most impressive about the new building, Hardt said, are carpeted locker rooms, hardwood lockers and game clocks in the locker rooms that allow coaches to know, during halftime, when to have their teams return to the floor.

The stadium also seats 6,500 fans in sheer comfort and has an eye-appealing wood floor that does not have hard or soft spots.

"(The arena) was very well done," Hardt said.

The fact that the tribal government and tiny reservation town was willing to put so much money and effort into the facility is a tribute to the respect they have for the game and their youth.

Winds of change

Things could be changing on the Arizona Interscholastic Association scene.

The AIA's executive board proposed Dec. 18 that the governing body look into hiring independent investigators to check out potential rule violators.

If the board does so, it would represent an about face from previous years when the AIA operated under self-reporting rules only. Which meant, schools had to report their own violations before the AIA questioned any alleged violations.

It's unclear, what specific instance prompted board members to possibly hire independent investigators, but the decision could center on possible recruiting violations at Chandler Valley Christian High School.

CVC did their only investigation of any wrongdoings and found no rule violations.

Around the state in past years, there have been several other instances where athletes transferred schools, sometimes in the midst of the season, and have been allowed to participate at their new schools.

Allegations of violations of the state's "domicile rule" have surfaced, but the AIA has been powerless to investigate unless the offending schools report themselves.

AIA Executive Director Harold Slemmer said most schools operate well under the honor system.

However, some coaches around the state argue there are schools that bend the domicile and recruiting rules.

While the AIA has never had the power to hire its own investigators, there are other states whose sports governing bodies hire investigators.

The executive board is expected to address the new proposal at its next board meeting.

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