GHSA executive director Ralph Swearngin said Tuesday that he is pleased that school systems are taking the initiative to combat allegations of recruiting and other misconduct in their athletics programs and holding their coaches and schools to a higher standard.
Milton boys basketball coach David Boyd resigned on Monday after Milton reported allegations of illegal recruiting to the GHSA. Under Boyd, Milton won state championships in 2010 and 2012.
Boyd is the fifth Georgia head coach to lose his job this year amid alleged recruiting.
‘’I find it extremely refreshing,’’ Swearngin said of the trend. “I’m hearing educators talking more about ethics, and school administrators are looking more seriously at the behavior of their employees at all levels, not just coaches and recruiting. Our administrators are looking at it more carefully.’’
Swearngin said he had not received Milton’s report, sent Monday, and did not presume guilt on the part of the school or its coach. He said the investigation into Milton’s program was initiated by Fulton County Schools, not the GHSA.
News like this has been uncommonly frequent in 2012, as four football coaches lost their jobs in the off-season after allegations of recruiting surfaced.
In February, Charlie Flowers was forced out by Troup, his alma mater. Flowers, who had won a state championship at Shaw of Columbus in 2000, denied accusations that he recruited players illegally assisted their families with housing expenses. The Troup school system did not involve the GHSA in its investigations, and no penalties to the school were assessed.
In April, Shiloh coach Brian Montgomery was reassigned by Gwinnett County Schools after an article appeared in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in which the team’s quarterback said Montgomery persuaded him to transfer from another school. Montgomery denied the charge. GHSA bylaws state that it is illegal for coaches to influence a student to transfer from one school to another for athletic purposes.
Later in April, Rockdale County coach Mario Allen was not given a contract when a Rockdale Schools investigation found evidence of potential recruiting and practice violations. Allen denied any wrongdoing.
A month later, Cambridge coach Christian Hunnicutt resigned. Hunnicutt was a former assistant at Buford hired to start Cambridge’s program, but allegations of recruiting reportedly were a factor in his departure.
In each case, including Milton’s, the school systems started their own investigations and involved the GHSA later, if at all. Swearngin said schools’ taking lead roles is critical if illegal recruiting is to be curbed.
‘’If you take a look at our constitution, none of our bylaws ever have put us as a primary focus to be an investigative agency, but we know that we have to [investigate] sometimes,’’ Swearngin said. “In the past, when the GHSA has been involved in an investigation, we had to dig to get the facts. Now, it appears that school systems are looking after their own and taking the initiative.’’
Swearngin said that he suspects the school communities are playing a greater role in agitating for change in a time when top athletes are transferring in record numbers and changing the competitive balance in sports. Every Class AAAAA champion in boys basketball for the past decade has had at least one prominent transfer in its starting lineup.
That doesn’t mean those teams were recruiting. But allegations of recruiting are on the rise.
‘’All across the country, high school associations are becoming alarmed at the win-at-all-cost attitude,’’ Swearngin said. “I have no idea who turned in Milton [to the school system]. It would not surprise me if it was a parent or group of parents concerned about their kid’s spot being taken because of kids coming in. We’re getting more and more complaints from parents. It used to be the coach down the road. Now it appears parents are more involved, either for personal gain or for more ethical conduct.’’
Swearngin said the GHSA does not presume any wrongdoing on Milton’s part and couldn’t comment on the specifics of that case until the GHSA does its own probe and makes a ruling.
‘’I got a call yesterday morning indicating that a report would be filed with the GHSA by Milton High School concerning some violations they had of recruiting and undue influence,’’ Swearngin said. “There was no time limit given as to when that would get to our office. At this time, I have not seen any specific allegations.’’