LEXINGTON – Bowling Green High School will receive increased monitoring from the Kentucky High School Athletic Association, but will not lose its 2017 state basketball championship for recruiting violations, according to a deal announced Thursday.
The announcement comes after five years of hearings and inquiries by the KHSAA into Bowling Green’s kids’ basketball program and the organization of life taken for former player Zion Harmon, who was an eighth grader on the Purples team. who defeated Cooper 67-56 on March 19, 2017, for the school’s first Sweet 16 title.
“We are ready to move forward,” said Gary Fields, Superintendent for Bowling Green Independent Schools and Principal of Bowling Green High School in 2017. “Some of the things we will do with this reinforced observation will hopefully help some districts. that they will start dealing with non-resident students. … Maybe we can create a model that the KHSAA can use and they will help us train. “
The sanctions announced on Thursday were less severe than those originally proposed by the KHSAA.
Following Thursday morning’s meeting – which included an hour-long closed session – the KHSAA Control Council voted 14-0 in favor of reducing sanctions, with board members Darrell Billings and Greg Howard abstaining. .
More coverage:Sign up for the Courier Journal high school sports newsletter
In a January 12, 2022 letter obtained by the Courier Journal, KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett wrote to Fields and Bowling Green High Principal Kyle McGraw that the following penalties would be imposed:
- Release of the regional and state titles of the Bowling Green men’s basketball district during the 2016-17 season.
- The probation up to the 2021-22 school year “for failure to exercise institutional control”.
- A July review of Bowling Green’s membership in the KHSAA.
- A $ 1,000 fine.
- Refund of $ 5,211 for travel allowances paid to Sweet 16 2017.
- Return of $ 4,480.18 for KHSAA expenses for external investigative resources.
That letter was not made public by the KHSAA, which noted Bowling Green had 30 days to appeal the sanctions to the association’s Board of Control.
Attorney Jason Ams, who represents KHSAA, said that during Thursday’s meeting there had been “a significant exchange of information” between KHSAA and Bowling Green High officials since January, leading to a new proposal.
“I would like to point out that the sanctions that are now in place are still significant,” Ams said. “They are just different. It adequately reflects the investigations and work of all parties involved. “
Tackett said “important clarifications” have been made since the January letter was sent to Bowling Green.
“If we had gotten all the information earlier, the (January) letter would have looked a little different,” Tackett said.
Fields said Bowling Green will receive “enhanced monitoring for three years” and will be required to provide the KHSAA with the names and addresses of all coaches and non-resident students attending the school.
Fields said the school will also pay for “three consecutive summers of KHSAA training for our professionals, guidance counselors and secretaries.”
In the January 12 letter, the KHSAA details what it called a “direct violation of Statute 16,” which covers recruitment and undue influence.
Previous coverage:KHSAA investigates the Bowling Green men’s basketball team
Tackett wrote that the review of the KHSAA began in January 2017 after Harmon – identified as “ZH” in the letter – posted a video on social media claiming he “was recruited to Bowling Green High School.”
KHSAA has received a written request for review of the video from Warren County Schools District Athletic Director Eric Wilson.
After an investigation, the KHSAA found evidence that Harmon and his father, Mike, lived in Bowling Green with Anthony Hickey Sr., who was then an assistant coach with the high school women’s basketball program.
“Bowling Green knew or should have known that there was a violation of Statute 16 in this matter,” Tackett wrote in the letter. “This would clearly demonstrate that this student and his parents were receiving ineligible housing benefits from Bowling Green.
“This is further evidenced by the fact that, as verified by the property owner, Hickey was at least partially responsible for assisting (Mike Harmon) and (Zion Harmon) in locating and occupying this residence. It was subsequently confirmed who (Zion Harmon) also signed the official documents surrounding the lease.
Fields said there was no intention to violate Statute 16.
“There was no effort to hide anything; we thought it was within the rules, “she said.” Later (the KHSAA) explained that it wasn’t. “
Zion Harmon left Bowling Green High School after the 2016-17 season and earned Courier Journal All-State First Team honors as a freshman in Adair County (2017-18) and as a junior (2019-20) and senior ( 2020-21) in Marshall County.
He signed with Western Kentucky University but did not play for the Hilltoppers last season.
Jason Frakes: 502-582-4046; email@example.com; Twitter: @kyhighs.