The athletic community at Glendale Deer Valley High can rest easier after learning that the Arizona Interscholastic Association Executive Board lifted probationary status from their programs on Tuesday (Oct. 8), thus allowing participation in the playoffs.
The football program will have to wait a bit longer.
The board, in a special session at AIA headquarters in Phoenix, made its decision after consultation with Deer Valley Unified School District officials in regard to corrective action being taken in the wake of a violation of AIA bylaws by the football program.
On Sept. 16, the entire Deer Valley program was placed on probation for that violation, because the school knowingly violated the bylaws and allowed two ineligible athletes to play in a football game. The players later were ruled eligible.
It is possible that probation of the football program also will be lifted if the district continues to take corrective action in regard to the accountability of those responsible for the violation.
“In our opinion, district administrators demonstrated the values of accountability, cooperation and integrity by upholding the rules established by our membership,’’ said Chuck Schmidt, AIA Associate Executive Director.
The district will be able to continue to update the Executive Board on its corrective action at the next Executive Board meeting on Oct. 21. If the football probation is lifted at that time, it would allow the football program to participate in the playoffs.
A few dozen athletes, students and parents attended Tuesday’s meeting. Representing the district were Superintendent James Veitenheimer, Associate Superintendent Krista Anderson and District Athletic Director Bill Gahn.
“Corrective action is being implemented but has not been finalized,’’ Schmidt said. “There is no deadline for the action to be completed, but we would like to put the issue on the table for the board to review.’’
District Spokeswoman Heidi Vega said the AIA wants the Deer Valley school district to hold those responsible for the violation accountable.
"Unfortunately, I cannot provide any details on personnel issues or information," said Vega. "I can tell you that, at this point, disciplinary actions have been and will be implemented."
Carrie Burkholder is a parent who is happy that the probation has been lifted. Her son is on the football, wrestling and track teams. She said the past few weeks have been hard on the kids.
"They've been crying, they've been upset, and they don't know if their scholarships are going to go through," said Burkholder.
Burkholder questioned why the AIA took the strong actions against the school.
"How does the AIA, which is supposed to be for the children, do something like that? They haven't had a ruling like this in over 30 years. You've got to tell me that some of the other schools haven't done worse."
Burkholder said that school districts should call for an investigation of the AIA. She questioned why members of the AIA make "six figure salaries" when they're working for a non-profit organization.
KTAR's Bob McClay contributed to this report.