Sanctioned student abuse by the UHSAA

Dec 4 2012 - 12:18pm

Recently, the UHSAA administrators misused their discretionary authority to abuse and punish innocent students, schools and sports programs across the state in order to correct administrative paperwork errors.

In the case of Timpview, understand that an underclass student athlete who played in only two games in the last few minutes of blowout victories incorrectly filled out a transfer form.

Had he filled it out correctly, he would have been instructed to request a waiver via a second form. A waiver would likely have been granted in his type of case.

The student in question does not speak English as his primary language. Timpview was stripped of their 2012 Region Championship and forced to forfeit four games.

The school lost over $100,000 in gate receipts and concessions income and then it got worse.

A week later, Timpview suffered a humiliating victory, beating favored Logan 49-14 while afterwards facing taunts by Logan supporters and students hurling expletives and labeling our team as "cheaters!"

This UHSAA-sanctioned abuse came after a spectacular performance by the Thunderbird athletes and coaches.

This event was followed by a similar but more muted response at Woods Cross. In both cases, Timpview players had to hang their heads in triumph.

These other schools' supporters can be forgiven for their actions because I believe they too, like Herriman and other schools and students, were victims of administrative malfeasance by the UHSAA.

The "anyone, anywhere, anytime" defiance somehow simultaneously emboldened yet tainted the team's phenomenal run.

In an age in which colleges and professional athletes have been found guilty and punished for serious deceit, lying or outrageously unacceptable behavior, UHSAA and journalists have inadvertently and falsely labeled these outstanding athletes and coaches as something they are not.

They have left readers with the impression that there was corruption and cheating going on in this program and that those caught should be punished and run out of town.

This comes in the wake last summer of Provo School District and the Timpview principal crucifying and firing a good man and coach, Louis Wong, for successfully raising nearly $1.8 million for the program, but unknowingly not following district procedures. Not for stealing mind you, though that was the impression, but for not following nebulous procedures, which the district itself had failed to properly implement.

Two weeks ago, 90 gentlemen took the field to battle against a talented, scrappy team from Mountain Crest to win a championship in a dramatic, double-overtime game.

In unprecedented, if not historic fashion, the Thunderbirds played four road games against the four best teams in 4A to win the state championship, yet their toughest opponents were the presumptuous administrators who have abused their discretion while effecting real and lasting harm and animosities.

By my count, the 2012 Thunderbirds finished an amazing run with a record of 17-1, beating all on- and off-field opponents with admirable class and character, while learning some invaluable life lessons.

I wish we could say the same for the moronic actions of those administrators. Let's hope a few grown-ups can intervene in the future to stop blatant abuse by governing authorities and individuals who should be ashamed that they so tarnished the exemplary accomplishments of these student athletes and coaches.

Tim Bridgewater is a former Utah K-12 education deputy and is the proud parent of a student athlete on Timpview's 2012 Regional and State Championship football team

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