Following a City Paper investigation, the TSSAA — the state's high-school sports governing body — issued major sanctions against Montgomery Bell Academy Friday.
The Big Red will vacate the 2007 state football title and the 2010 basketball title, forfeit all games in football between 2007 and 2011 and several basketball games between 2007 and 2010, and turn over more than $46,000 in playoff revenue for violations of the recruiting and financial aid rules.
In addition, MBA will be on two years probation, will pay a fine and will, voluntarily, conduct seminars for other private schools on the TSSAA's financial aid rules.
The City Paper investigation found at least nine alleged cases of student-athletes receiving financial aid outside of the strictures of the TSSAA's rules. The TSSAA ultimately found three instances of recruiting and eight financial aid violations.
In a letter to MBA, TSSAA Executive Director Bernard Childress said that, although many of the instances represented MBA helping "families in need," it was still a violation of the rules.
"Good intentions do not excuse the institution's failure to understand and follow important TSSAA Bylaws that serve the purposes outlined above. Over a period of several years MBA did not see to it that key members of the school's administration understood the requirements of the TSSAA Bylaws, particularly the Tuition and Financial Aid Rule and the Recruiting Rule."
Additionally, MBA’s entire athletic program will serve a two-year probation starting on Feb. 1. If the school is found to violate any TSSAA eligibility rules during that period, the program will be placed on a one-year restrictive probation and fined $25,000.
Headmaster Brad Gioia was out of town and unavailable for comment.
MBA fired head coach Daniel McGugin in April 2011 it came to light that he delivered a check for $1,500 to the parents of a player. In May, the school formed a review committee to examine financial aid policies regarding student athletes. The committee delivered the results of the report in August 2011 to attorneys for the TSSAA, which launched its own investigation. The penalties announced today are a result of that investigation.
Specifically, the TSSAA found three examples where tuition balances were left uncollected by the school in addition to third parties assisting student athletes by paying some or all of their tuition.
In a letter to MBA alumni, board of trust chairman James A. Webb III, acknowledged the school’s violations.
“These past many months have been difficult for the entire MBA family, but I believe we have emerged better and stronger. MBA has dealt with this matter forthrightly, acknowledged its mistakes, and corrected the problems that led to these issues. In fact, the TSSAA cited the decisive action MBA took last spring and summer, as well as MBA’s full cooperation with the TSSAA, as the primary reasons that the penalties were not more severe. While we are disappointed in having to forfeit past athletic events and awards, we are extremely pleased that the TSSAA agreed there was no need to place any future restrictions on MBA’s athletics program that would have limited our current students’ full athletic participation.”
|MBA letter redacted.pdf||3.12 MB|