Southlake, Trinity coaches caught on tape

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by BRETT SHIPP

WFAA

Posted on September 1, 2010 at 8:34 PM

NEWS 8 INVESTIGATES

Southlake Carroll and Euless Trinity are two of the most highly regarded high school football programs in the state, if not the nation.

The Trinity Trojans were not only state champs last year, but are ranked by USA Today as the pre-season number-one ranked high school football team in the nation.

But now the focus is not on this coming season, but this summer, when News 8 observed coaches from both schools encroaching on potentially treacherous turf. 

University Interscholastic League rules in Texas restrict their coaching during the summer to only "strength and conditioning."

"Sport specific skill instruction is prohibited," according to the rules.

The use of "sport specific equipment (such as a football) is prohibited."

This past June, as News 8 investigated the eligibility of Southlake's starting quarterback, we recorded select members of the Dragons football team engaged in what's known as "7-on-7" competition.

The "7-on-7" competitions are sanctioned by the UIL, formally scheduled on a weekend, and attended by a referee and spectators.

While watching the competition, our camera captured video of a group we have identified as Southlake Dragons assistant football coaches in the end zone.

While coaches are allowed to watch from the end zone, UIL rules prohibit them from sport-specific skill instruction.

Four of five coaches identified in the videotape were giving what some construe to be definitive coaching instructions.

Kevin Rogers is the former Chairman of the UIL District 6-5A Executive Committee, which administers rulings on a local level. Without actually viewing the tape, Rogers said this level of participation from coaches raises a yellow flag.

"Coaches should be up in the bleachers watching their students, and certainly shouldn't be coaching, and I would think that would be pretty clear to keep that in that manner," Rogers said. "If they pass that,  then it would be my belief or opinion that would be a violation."

Just days later, on June 24 — in the middle of the week, with no spectators and no referee present — we witnessed another, less structured "7-on-7" event.

But this this time, it took place on Southlake's own practice field between two teams — Southlake Carroll and last year's 5A state champs, the Trinity Trojans.

And this time, Trinity's coaches were more openly out on the field and apparently giving instructions.

Again, the former UIL executive committee chairman says the situation seen in the video raises questions.  "I would think if it's not coaching, then it certainly is very close to that," Rogers said.

Just moments after we started taping, we were intercepted by Southlake head coach Hal Wasson, who tried to have us removed from the field.  He denied anything improper was going on. 

"It's not a practice; it's just some guys playing 7-on-7,"  Wasson said. "There's nothing wrong with that."

When we pressed Wasson about the presence of what News 8 has identified as Trinity's assistant coaches standing out on the practice field, Wasson told us he didn't know who they were. 

"You'll have to go ask Trinity that; that's their parents, I guess," Wasson said.

And what were those Trinity coaches doing on Southlake's practice field that day? 

Trinity Head Coach Steve Coach Lineweaver declined numerous requests to answer that question.

And when we asked Wasson about the presence of his own coaching staff, Wasson told News 8 they were "supervising our facilities."

The U.I.L. District Executive Committees for both schools are aware of our investigation, and are waiting for our broadcast before possibly calling for action.

The penalty for violation of the coaching rules range from reprimand all the way to suspension.

Last Friday, the District 7-5A Executive Committee ruled — based on our story last week — that Southlake Carroll's quarterback is ineligible to play this season.

E-mail bshipp@wfaa.com

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