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UPDATED: Will the AIA come after more schools than Hamilton?

Updated: Aug 25, 2022

Private high schools have a massive advantage over public schools in athletics because private schools have no set boundaries for where athletes can reside and little to no anti-recruitment rules. Mater Dei (CA) and Bishop Gorman (NV) are just two of several West Coast examples.

Public schools, on the other hand, have strict rules they must follow. The players must attend schools within their school district or apply for open enrollment ahead of time in order to be eligible to attend the school and compete in its athletics.

In a 2015 article by the NFHS, the idea of public and private high schools coexisting in athletics was brought into question.

“Even if there is no actual recruitment of athletes, private schools do not have the same geographic boundaries that public schools have,” Dr. David Hoch said. “In some communities and areas of a state, therefore, there is real competition for students and athletes.”

Coaches actively recruiting is a major issue that many public schools are faced with. Cesar Chavez in Laveen, Arizona knows this all too well.

Cesar Chavez Athletic Director Lenny Doerfler made his opinion on the topic clear when he sounded off on Twitter:

Not only did he share his thoughts and frustrations with coaches reaching out to his players recently, but he also included screenshots of conversations between coaches and his football players.

Doerfler declined an interview request from BJ Media regarding the tweet and accusations.

The program has been through a lot the last couple years as they also had to recover from having more than 20 players transferred. This was more than any other school in the Phoenix Union District.

Desert Edge and Hamilton High School are two of the schools represented in those conversations.

The Hamilton coach in question, defensive coordinator Tim Dougherty, did not respond to an interview request.

On Aug. 15, the AIA placed Hamilton on one year of probation for recruiting violations in direct relation to the accusations brought to light by Cesar Chavez. The Huskies, ranked third in Arizona, will be ineligible for the postseason in 2022.

The school has since placed Dougherty on administrative leave while they appeal the AIA's decision.

The punishment may be rare in Arizona, but public schools in other nearby states, such as Bellevue (WA) (high school of Cardinals All-Pro safety Budda Baker) have been punished much more heavily for recruiting violations.

Before the recent Hamilton punishment, not much of that has happened in Arizona, and public schools continue to have the best players and programs in the state, something that is rare and unique compared to the high school football landscape across the country and even the West Coast.

Cesar Chavez also took the Desert Edge issue up to the AIA and no punishment was handed down for the accused violation of the Section 12 Recruitment Rule. Multiple members of the Scorpions program deny the accusations as well.

Class of 2024 wide receiver Kezion Dia-Johnson is the most recent Chavez player to transfer to Desert Edge and has since picked up five Division I offers, including Arizona, Nebraska, and Oregon, since joining the Scorpion program.

Desert Edge sources confirmed the accuracy of this report but declined to comment.

Doerfler was not the only member of the school voicing his frustration. Head coach William Chipley jumped into the conversation via Twitter and gave his thoughts on this issue from his perspective.

Chipley also declined to comment.

In another tweet, Chipley talks about the balance in numbers between the Champions program and schools that allegedly recruit their players:

Several other coaches as well as media members, such as JustChilly and Kevin McCabe, chimed in on this discussion about the nationwide issue of public school recruiting.

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