Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep facing AIA recruiting violation

Notre Dame Coach Mark Nolan will oversee two football camps planned in January at Notre Dame Prep.

Notre Dame Coach Mark Nolan oversees previous years’ football camps planned in January at Notre Dame Prep in north Scottsdale. (File photo)

The state association overseeing high school athletic programs has confirmed Notre Dame Preparatory High School violated one of its early-season football practice rules and is now under further investigation for an alleged recruiting violation.

Arizona Interscholastic Association Executive Director Harold Slemmer confirmed during a Sept. 15 phone interview that the allegation stems from a letter allegedly sent out by the Notre Dame football coach.

The letter, which contained the school’s logo and coach’s signature, purportedly was sent to “elite players” in the area and invited them to an on-campus camp.

According to Mr. Slemmer, the letter was brought to the AIA’s attention by Chaparral High School Athletic Director Tommy Eubanks after it was received by a player in his area.

The alleged recruiting violation is under investigation. Mr. Slemmer said the process provides Notre Dame officials with a chance to respond.

“There could be a good explanation (or an) ‘I don’t know’ of what happened there,” Mr. Slemmer said during a Sept. 15 phone interview. “Then the board will have a chance to look at that response and make a decision from there.”

Earlier this month, the AIA board had determined that a class at Notre Dame violated an AIA rule that prohibits students from practicing in pads and helmets prior to a state-designated timeline.

The findings came at the board’s Wednesday, Sept. 13, executive board meeting.

While the board did not hand out a punishment at the meeting, it did determine the class was in violation of AIA bylaws. Mr. Slemmer said a punishment likely won’t be determined until October’s executive board meeting, following the AIA’s policy.

“Our process is that when the board determines there was a violation that wasn’t reported by the school, we send a letter to the school to let them know that we determined that,” Mr. Slemmer said. “(We) give them the opportunity then to evaluate it and send in a response to it.”

A school generally has 10 days to respond to the findings. Mr. Slemmer said no punishment will be discussed until the school is given a chance to respond.

Mr. Slemmer said Notre Dame has said it maintained it had every right to conduct the class since high school classes don’t fall under AIA jurisdiction.

Mr. Slemmer said Notre Dame officials claimed other schools were conducting similar classes involving baseball. Mr. Slemmer said, however, the school has not provided any names of other schools hosting similar classes.

“We have no knowledge of other schools that have violated our bylaws of restriction of equipment,” Mr. Slemmer said in a Sept. 15 phone interview.

Notre Dame president Jim Gmelich was unavailable for comment. An e-mail requesting comment was returned with an automated response saying Mr. Gmelich was out of town.

Mr. Slemmer said the wording of the bylaw has never been called into question like it has regarding the football class. However, he said the bylaw was clear enough that 10 board members all thought the class was a violation.

News Services Reporter Josh Martinez can be contacted at jmartinez@newszap.com or at 623-445-2738

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