Chaparral coach: 'No knowledge' of improper contact with Goodyear youth football program

Richard Obert
Arizona Republic
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12/11/2021 Tempe, Arizona: Chaparral head coach Brent Barnes leads his team onto the field during last year's 6A championship game against Highland.

Scottsdale Chaparral football coach Brent Barnes defended his program after a Sports Illustrated article this week detailed how a group of incoming freshmen from a Southwest Valley youth football program came to the school this summer.

The story recounts an anonymous Goodyear parent, identified only as B, as taking calls in March from "various interested parties"

"Chaparral phoned and asked, 'What will it take?' " the parent told the publication. "I said, 'It's a long drive. We could use a little help on gas.' "

The parent told SI, "They helped us out."

On the surface, that would appear to be an Arizona Interscholastic Association recruiting violation.

David Hines, executive director of the AIA, said in a text to The Republic on Thursday morning that "the Scottsdale district reached out to us."

"We have been in communication with them and we will follow our process," Hines said.

Barnes is not quoted in the lengthy story. He said that SI did not reach out to him for comment.

"That would never come from me, 100%," Barnes told The Republic, about Chaparral reaching out to the parent. "I know better than that, and I care about my job. I also wouldn't tolerate that from anybody on our staff.

"At the end of the day, people can always say whatever they want. Obviously, this is the one year we did get a group come in. I've been here for five years and we never had people coming from different parts of the Valley. It just happened to be a year when that's happening."

Chaparral principal Josh Pantier, in an email to The Republic Thursday, confirmed there was contact between the Scottsdale school district and AIA on the matter.

"I believe our district AD, Nathan Slater, reached out ot the AIA yesterday with some questions,'' he said. "I am not aware of any investigation related to the article. If we were aware of any substantiated claims of any athletic program being in violation of the AIA bylaws, we would self-report.''

The SI story also talks about numerous other programs in the Valley and efforts to attract top players who reside in other, far-flung districts, as well as connections between top high school teams and youth football teams that effectively act as ''feeder'' programs.

"I'm not in any reason to know why that's happening. At the end of the day, we just coach the people who are enrolled at our school,'' Barnes said.

Barnes added that if anything wrong occurred, the matter will be addressed.

"I don’t know what was said as far as there being a violation. If there is and there’s proof, then we’ll obviously deal with it. If somebody on my staff committed a recruiting violation then they’ll have to pay the price for it,'' he told The Republic.

Open enrollment is a state law adopted in 1994 that allows students to attend public schools outside the district boundaries in which they live. That law has helped student-athletes start their high school careers as incoming freshmen at any school in the Valley. The Arizona Interscholastic Association has rules in place that require players who transfer high schools to sit out some games before they can play for a new team.

District boundary rules aren't an issue for 15 or so football players from a top youth program coming into a school as freshmen, even if it's a 45-minute drive to the opposite end of the Valley. But when there is enticement from that school, that becomes a problem.

Barnes stressed he  had "no knowledge of anything taking place."

"We just have to deal with what comes. We haven't been dealing with a whole lot from our end. It doesn't seem like there's been any problem on our end from all of it. But obviously, there's going to be a lot of conversation about some of that stuff now,'' he said.

“At the end of the day, I don’t think there was anything to that. All I know is what I know and that is we’ve been doing things the right way the whole time I’ve been there,'' he added. "Everybody has their reasons for going or coming somewhere. Whatever that is.”

To suggest human-interest story ideas and other news, reach Obert at or 602-316-8827. Follow him on Twitter @azc_obert.

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