Questioning An Athlete's Eligibility Is Very Familiar

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If the student-athlete eligibility incident going on at Globe High School sounds all too familiar, there’s a reason for it.

It’s because what’s occurring in the Tigers’ sports program is almost exactly what transpired during the 2006-2007 school year at Payson High.

Near the end of the girls basketball season, PHS administrators reported basketball star Rhea Cosay was not a legal resident of the Payson School District.

School officials reported the incident because the AIA was then a self-policing organization and the system was built on honor and trust.

However, school officials later learned the incident was reported to the AIA by at least two parents who were disgruntled over discipline issues their children had been subjected to.

Eventually, Cosay was deemed ineligible because PHS administrators had not filed proper hardship guardianship papers for the Alchesay transfer.

With the ruling, the Lady Longhorn basketball team — which had won the East Region tournament championship — was booted from the Class 3A state tournament.

That created hard feelings in the Rim Country, some of which continue to exist today.

In Globe, where an apparently similar event is occurring, the eligibility of a transfer move-in is being questioned, just as Cosay’s was.

Reportedly, the possible violation was brought to the attention of the Globe High School AD who alerted the AIA.

The supposed infractions in Payson and now in Globe have to do with the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s domicile rule that require a student athlete to live at home in district boundaries with his parents or guardians.

The Globe situation is somewhat different from what occurred Payson in that it could have some recruiting implications, which was not the case when Cosay was deemed ineligible.

What eventually will happen in the ongoing situation in Globe is impossible to predict. But if it resembles what occurred in Payson, things will get ugly, to say the least.

In 2006, with much of the town up in arms crying, “No fair,” a group of upset parents first met with AIA officials, school administrators and later filed an appeal to reinstate the team into the postseason.

Gila County Superior Court Judge Peter J. Cahill ruled in AIA’s favor and the team was forced to forfeit all the games Cosay had played in.

With that very unpopular decision, assistant principal Tim Fruth immediately replaced athletic director Dave Bradley. At the end of the school year, Bradley chose to retire early and move to southern Arizona. Midway through the next basketball season coach Grant Coley eventually stepped down but kept his reasons to himself.

Suspicions are that the two departures are at least partially connected to the Cosay incident.

While it is common knowledge that the domicile rule is frequently broken in Arizona, only a few self-reporting schools have been penalized for infractions.

Last spring, the AIA joined forces with several other state prep associations in trying to firm up enforcement of the rules by hiring private firms to investigate alleged infractions of student-athlete domicile requirements.

The rules

The AIA’s domicile rule seems clear cut.

It is: Domicile Requirements — Except as otherwise stated in Article 15, a student, whether an adult or not, is privileged with eligibility for interscholastic competition only at the school in the district in which his/her parents are domiciled.

Also, a domicile is defined as:

Except as otherwise stated in Article 15, a domicile is a place where a person has his/her true, fixed and permanent home, and to which, whenever absent, he or she has the intention of returning. A student shall have only one domicile for the purposes of these eligibility rules.

Change of Domicile — This is dependent upon the facts in each case, but, as a minimum, to be considered a change of domicile under these rules, the following facts must exist:

The original domicile must be or is in the process of being abandoned; that is sold, rented, or otherwise disposed of, and must not be used as a residence by either parent or any child in the 12th grade or younger, and take with them the household goods and furnishings appropriate to the circumstances.

Not broken?

And if you believe those rules have never been broken and gone unreported, I have some ocean-front property in Arizona I want to sell to you.

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