UPDATED: Tempe vs. Saguaro aftermath
UPDATE 9/12: AIA releases statement about Saguaro-Tempe football game…….
The Arizona Interscholastic Association is a voluntary association of public and private Arizona high schools and serves as the governing body to promote fair and equitable competition between member schools. As an organization, the AIA oversees interscholastic activities that create personal development opportunities with a balanced focus on academics and extracurricular activities. The student participants and their overall safety is always at the forefront of the AIA’s actions, policies and decision making.
On September 7, 2012, the football game between member schools Tempe and Saguaro High School ended after Tempe High School forfeited the game shortly before half time. Tempe High School took the position that they did so for the safety of its players. This forfeiture along with the allegations made against Saguaro High School have been brought to the AIA for consideration. The AIA provides a process, under the organization’s bylaws and the National Federation of High School Associations (NFHS) contest rules, which allow both schools the opportunity to come to an amicable conclusion so both teams can carry on with the season.
After thoroughly reviewing the game breakdown, video tapes and reports from each school, the AIA believes the officials and referees acted appropriately. The game tapes and reports establish that both team committed un-sportsman like conduct penalties. Penalty calls were appropriately made against each side.
Total Penalties: Saguaro 16 – Tempe 14
Personal Fouls: Saguaro 5 – Tempe 1
Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Saguaro 1 – Tempe 3
Additionally, a Saguaro player, and Tempe Assistant Coach were each ejected from the game. No evidence has been provided that either team deliberately attempted to cause injury.
Today, the AIA facilitated a meeting between the member high school administrators to share the reports and discuss the findings. As stated in their joint press release, Scottsdale Unified and Tempe Union school districts will continue to work with the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) and support its investigation. All parties concerned are committed to ensuring that students are provided an opportunity to compete in interscholastic activities while adhering to the constitution and by-laws of the AIA.
If sanctions are warranted against either team, it will be decided and announced by the AIA Board of Directors at the next scheduled board meeting on October 22, 2012.
UPDATE 9/12: After both schools met with the AIA on Wednesday morning, Tempe Union School District issued the following statement:
Since last Friday’s Tempe vs. Saguaro football game, the superintendents from the Scottsdale Unified School District and the Tempe Union High School District have been in continuous communication to ensure that the circumstances surrounding the events of last Friday are properly investigated and addressed according to each district’s Governing Board Policies and Administrative Procedures. The primary concern has always been, and will continue to be, the safety of all students and the proper conduct of students, staff and officials.
Scottsdale Unified and Tempe Union will continue to work with the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA), fully trusting in the AIA’s ability to properly investigate this matter. The AIA and each school district are committed to ensuring that all students are provided an opportunity to compete in interscholastic activities while adhering to the constitution and by-laws of the AIA.
In the wake of Tempe and Saguaro controversial game and conclusion on Friday night, well, there’s still a wake to wade through.
Here’s the nuts and bolts of what happened on Friday night, and Tempe coach Brian Walker said (very) late Friday night that three of his four injured players were released from the hospital. As of 2 a.m. Friday night/Saturday morning, Jordan Wiatr was still being tested and examined at the hospital.
Walker guesstimated his other injured kids – Emanuel Gant, Terry’on Wycoff and Messiah Smith – would miss a couple weeks. The school plans to send game tapes to the AIA for review of the game.
Walker didn’t immediately return a phone message seeking an update Saturday afternoon, but Tempe High principal Mark Yslas sent out a letter to Tempe parents and students on Saturday morning:
Today I’m asking the entire Tempe Familia to keep the players who were injured in last night’s football game vs Saguaro in your thoughts and prayers. Emanuel Gant, and Terry’on Wycoff were given CT scans and MRIs to check for head related trauma, and thankfully, results were negative. Messiah Smith suffered bruised ribs, and Jordan Wiatr has a mild concussion.
Although we are not out of the woods yet, the players seem to be recovering steadily and medical personnel are seeing goods signs as they monitor their progress.
I am extremely proud of Shelly Arredondo, our Athletic Director and Head Coach Brian Walker for forfeiting the game right before halftime last night. Ms. Arredondo and Coach Walker and the entire Tempe football community will be criticized and second guessed for that decision for quite some time. Sometimes coaches, Athletic Directors, and fanatical football fans are blinded by the final score and the machismo factor that goes with football. Sometimes they care more about their reputation than doing the right thing, making sure kids are safe and healthy. Not at Tempe High.
Ms. Arredondo and Coach Walker recognized that the opposing team was not just out to win the game, they were out to injure our players. Saguaro was penalized 12 times for unfair play. They had nine personal fouls, and three unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, and one player ejection for a flagrant foul. Three of the Tempe players that were injured suffered their injuries from an illegal contact, flagged by the referee. It is extremely rare for a team to be flagged/penalized 12 times for personal fouls/unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in one season, let alone one half of a football game.
Ms. Arredondo and Coach Walker are as competitive as they come; however, they will never jeopardize the health and welfare of our student athletes. Forfeiting last night’s game was not about getting beat on the scoreboard and being physically dominated, it was about recognizing that the opponent, in this case Saguaro High School, was not going to pursue victory with honor and they did not deserve to be on the same field with an honorable team like Tempe High.
I am proud of our players for not stooping to Saguaro’s level and remaining respectful of the game. The Buffaloes were only penalized once for unsportsmanlike conduct and that was the result of a player complaining to an official, not for an attempt to injure a Saguaro player. Our Tempe High players did not retaliate, and they continued to play fairly, with honor and pride until the game was called.
Today, I am wearing my Tempe High colors with honor and pride. I will defend the actions of our football staff and our players to anyone.
Once a Buffalo always a Buffalo!
Principal of Tempe High
Yslas’ letter notes that Saguaro was called for nine personal foul penalties, but Saguaro coach Jason Mohns said Saturday that his team was whistled for six personal foul penalties (two for roughing the passer, two for late hits, a facemask and another for celebration).