Sunday, September 4, 2011

Alabama high school scrutinized for irregularities

Sunday, September 4, 2011

MONTGOMERY, Ala. ? The Alabama High School Athletic Association announced this week that officials from Prattville High School have asked the association to look into allegations of rules violations first reported in the Montgomery Advertiser.

In the three-sentence news release, the AHSAA promised to "thoroughly investigate" any possible rules violations. It also states it won't discuss the investigation because it involves students' scholastic records and other personal information.

AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese said that while this sort of "thorough" investigation isn't an everyday occurrence for his group, it's not that uncommon, either.

"We probably have one or two of these thorough investigations each year," Savarese said. "But anytime a member school calls and asks us to, we will investigate. I'll say that over 90% of the violations we have come from our member schools turning themselves in.

"Our schools do a good job of policing themselves, and occasionally we get requests such as this one."

In terms of a timeline for the investigation, Savarese said there isn't one.

"We're task-oriented, not time-oriented in these situations," he said. "We've had some last as long as six months and some that took only a month or two. We won't put a timeline on it. We'll investigate everything and do our jobs."

This week, the Advertiser has reported that at least four current athletes — football players Jalen Whitlow, Kordell Arrington and De'Ante Lawrence and baseball player Austin Crook — had made moves that might violate the AHSAA's "Bona Fide" move rule.

Whitlow's family has listed seven different addresses over the last two years, and the senior-to-be quarterback was prevented from playing for Stanhope Elmore last spring when head coach Jeff Foshee discovered he hadn't made a proper move to that school zone.

The families of Arrington, Lawrence and Crook all have second, larger homes in other school districts, and the Lawrences and Crooks have used the homes outside of Prattville to claim homestead exemptions, which allows a taxpayer to reduce taxes on his/her primary residence.

In addition to those players, there are still questions surrounding several players who never made the proper transition from the Prattville school zone to the Marbury zone when the school lines were redrawn nearly two years ago.

The Advertiser provided Autauga County Schools Superintendent Greg Faulkner with a list of students who listed addresses now zoned for Marbury but who were still attending and playing sports at Prattville.

Faulkner did not return messages left for him Monday or Tuesday.

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