CBA placed on probation over recruitment and undue influence rule violation

CBA quarterback Donald Jones takes off with the ball from the Brothers' backfield in the second quarter of the Section II football season opener against La Salle on Sept. 3, 2021 at Christian Brothers Academy's newly installed turf field in Latham.
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CBA quarterback Donald Jones takes off with the ball from the Brothers' backfield in the second quarter of the Section II football season opener against La Salle on Sept. 3, 2021 at Christian Brothers Academy's newly installed turf field in Latham.

SECTION II – The Section II Athletic Council voted Wednesday to put Christian Brothers Academy on probation for three years and suspended its football team for one game next season.

The vote, which required two-thirds majority to pass, was for the school’s football team violating the state athletic association’s recruitment and undue influence rule. The team is suspended from competing during week zero of next fall, when teams may either scrimmage or play a regular-season game.

The school will be on probation until Jan. 25, 2026. According to Section II Executive Director Ed Dopp, the action started with an allegation of recruitment and undue influence by the football team. CBA President Dr. James Schlegel then reported the violation on Nov. 8, 2022 in a letter to Section II.

Blaine Drescher, CBA’s athletic director, said Schegel outlined to the athletic council Wednesday that it didn’t have all the relevant information.

“We were hoping to postpone the vote so that all the schools could be given more information,” Drescher said by phone. “Regardless, they went forward, and we will be able to share all the information sometime in the future.

“I will say the most recent violation involves an eighth-grader who never visited CBA, applied to CBA, or enrolled at CBA. Section II informed us of the complaint from the student’s district,” Drescher added. 

According to multiple people with knowledge of the situation, the student-athlete in question was from the Saratoga Springs area. Contacted after Wednesday’s vote regarding to place CBA on probation, Saratoga Springs varsity football coach Terry Jones declined comment. Saratoga Springs Athletic Director Nick McPartland did not respond.

CBA varsity football coach Bobby Burns said in reading the state’s rule, it seems broadly worded.

“There’s a lot of gray area there,” Burns said by telephone. “One of my lower-level coaches reached out to a guy that he was friends with, was an acquaintance of, and he had asked the guy if he was interested in possibly sending his kid to CBA. And the assumption was that, because my lower-level coach was a coach at CBA, that it had to do with football. I think it got misconstrued that way. I’m a little bit confused at the fact that if someone reaches out to someone and says, ‘Hey, are you interested in sending your kid to CBA?’ how is that recruiting?”

Drescher said that Schlegel told the athletic council why it didn’t have all the information. Drescher then made a motion, which was seconded, to postpone the vote on the probation and one-game suspension. However, it was unanimously voted against. The regular vote then followed and passed.

“I think ultimately we have to let the process play out,” Drescher said. “We are awaiting a written decision from Section II, and then we’ll explore all our options.”

CBA won its second consecutive Section II Class AA football title this past season and reached the state semifinals.

As part of the probation, CBA must submit a professional development plan to the Section II Executive Committee by Feb. 28, in which it lists its plan for educating the school’s coaches, staff and employees on the state’s recruitment and undue influence rule.

It also must provide documentation to the executive committee that it did so, including dates and verification of those in attendance for each of the fall, winter and spring sports seasons through Jan. 25, 2026.

“It’s my understanding that we will be providing a curriculum-approved plan before each season,” Drescher said. “What I will be interested in is if there are any other schools with a curriculum for that so we can do it to the best of our ability.”

The final part of the probation stipulates that CBA acknowledges that if it violates the recruitment and undue influence rule, eligibility rules or sports standards, or fails to comply with any other conditions, it may be subject to suspension from postseason games.

In its agenda minutes, Section II’s executive committee considered past incidents by CBA when determining the proposal for probation. The school self-reported a violation of the state’s transfer rule standard in 2015. It was censured for that. Then it violated the recruitment and undue influence rule in 2019 and was censured for that. At that time, Section II recommended that CBA provide professional development on the rule to all its coaches. In 2021, Section II investigated CBA over the recruitment and undue influence rule and found no violation, but expressed “serious concerns.”

Since the 2021-22 school year, CBA admitted it had only five to 10 minutes at each of the fall, winter and spring season coaches’ meetings to review the state’s recruitment and undue influence rule.

“I would be lying if I said it isn’t discouraging,” Drescher said. “But days like today don’t discourage me for long, because I will continue to do the best I can to serve the students of Christian Brothers Academy, because ultimately I’m here for them.”

Adam Shinder and Michael Kelly contributed to this report. Contact Will Springstead at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @WLSpringstead.

Categories: High School Sports, Sports, Sports

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