State playoffs set, Notre Dame Prep still on probation

The new Bemis Field at Notre Dame Preparatory. (file photo)

The Bemis Field at Notre Dame Preparatory. (file photo)

The state playoffs are set and Scottsdale-based Notre Dame Preparatory will watch the tournament from home after the Arizona Interscholastic Association decided to maintain the school’s postseason ban.

The AIA announced its playoff seeds for each classification Saturday, Oct. 29, morning, but left NDP out even though the school earned the top spot in the Northeast Valley Region. Usually, the top finisher in each region gets an automatic bid into the state playoffs.

With NDP out of the playoffs, Chaparral High School finished second in the region, but received the region’s automatic bid to the playoffs.

On Friday, Oct. 28, the AIA executive board decided to rescind one of Notre Dame Prep’s two probations, but to uphold the other probation, attorney Jordan Rose confirmed. NDP was serving a one-year probation for a recruiting and an out-of-season football class violation.

Ms. Rose said the vote was close, but the AIA decided Notre Dame Prep had not done enough to qualify to have its second probation taken away because it left the president in his post.

“The parents are incredibly disappointed with this school management that decided to put this president above the entirely innocent student-athletes interest,” Ms Rose said in an Oct. 28 e-mailed response.

Instead of firing school president James Gmelich, the school decided to officially reprimand him, removing him from all responsibilities surrounding athletics, academic and extracurricular activities.

Additionally, Mr. Gmelich offered to donate one week’s worth of pay to charity, which the school accepted.

Along with Mr. Gmelich, the school fired head football coach Mark Nolan and placed athletic director Monica Barrett on a one-week unpaid administrative leave.

These punishments came as a result of parents raising an outcry about the situation by creating a petition, hiring an attorney and calling for the school to fire both Mr. Gmelich and Mr. Nolan.

While Notre Dame Prep won’t make an appearance in the playoffs, several other north Valley schools did make the cut.

In 6A, Brophy Preparatory garnered a No. 5 seed and will face No. 12 Pinnacle High School. In 5A, Chaparral earned the No. 15 seed and will take on No. 2 Williams Field High School. The top seed in 4A went to the undefeated Saguaro High School, which will play No. 16 Amphitheater High School.

Additionally, Cactus Shadows made it in as the No. 11 seed in 4A and will play No. 6 Catalina Foothills High School.

News Services Reporter Josh Martinez can be contacted at or at 623-445-2738

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