NEWS 8 INVESTIGATES
The Southlake Carroll Dragons, a perennial high school football powerhouse, may soon be facing state scrutiny.
The status of starting quarterback Daxx Garman is in question.
News 8 has spent the summer investigating the star player's eligibility. Now the Texas University Interscholastic League will apparently have to decide whether Southlake Carroll is playing by the rules.
As a junior quarterback last year at Jones High School in Oklahoma, Garman lit up the scoreboard with eye-opening performances. He was credited with 24 touchdowns in eight games, leading his team to a district title.
Some called him one of the top college prospects in the nation.
But the bubble burst when the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association ruled that Garman didn't really live in the little town of Jones. Officials discovered Garman's primary residence was really a 25-acre ranch in the larger neighboring town of Choctaw.
It was declared that Garman had been ineligible to play his junior year.
As a result, Jones High School had to forfeit six district games and its district title.
What's more, according to OSSAA attorney Mark Grossman, "The student who participated while ineligible was required to sit out at least an equal amount of participation in the coming year."
Grossman says Garman applied for a waiver to regain his eligibility. That request was denied.
The rising star, who had committed to play for the University of Arizona, had no place to play his senior year — at least not in Oklahoma.
This past February, Garman's family rented a home in Southlake.
Texas rules require a student athlete to live in the district where he plays, and prohibits him from changing schools solely for athletic purposes.
While local UIL officials declared Garman eligible to play in Texas this past spring, their decision was based on evidence supplied by Southlake Athletic Director Kevin Ozee.
"I absolutely was in charge and made that determination by making a residency check," Ozee said. "We made the check unannounced, and determined the Garmans were bona fide residents of Southlake."
UIL rules also stipulate "any relocation of residence is a complete and permanent move for the family ... The former house (in Oklahoma) should be on the market or sold."
"The house was put on the market sometime back in the spring," Ozee said. When we asked for evidence of that, he declined to show us.
According to MLS real estate records in Oklahoma, the Garmans' home was put up for sale, but not last spring — two weeks ago, on August 10 — the day we interviewed Ozee.
UIL rules also say "there should be no personal effects or furniture belonging to the family in the previous residence."
Online photos of the home in Oklahoma, posted last week, appear to show many personal effects -- televisions, trophies, a toothbrush, clothes in the master closet -- still inside the home.
Evidence abounds that the student athlete's father, Pat Garman, may still live in the Oklahoma residence.
Garman works in nearby Oklahoma City at his own concrete contracting firm located in a newly-constructed building.
This summer, we watched Garman come and go from his property during the work week.
A few weeks ago, we recorded him at his mailbox, apparently retrieving mail.
In another video, Garman is seen leaving work, going home to Choctaw, hitching up his boat and heading to the lake.
We caught up with him as he stopped for gas. When we asked him what he was doing in Oklahoma, Garman replied, "It's summertime."
When we asked him if he lives in Southlake, Garman replied, "I absolutely do."
When we asked if he still had a home and a business in Oklahoma, Garman told us, "that's none of your [expletive] business."
While Garman wouldn't admit to still living in Oklahoma, Ozee offered information for him. "He [Garman] said he stays there one night or two nights a week when he goes back to work," the Southlake Carroll athletic director said.
Again, UIL rules state "any relocation of residence is a complete and permanent move for the family."
Athletic Director Ozee was also in charge of determining whether the student was prohibited from participating in athletics in Oklahoma this year.
Ozee insists Garman was eligible to play. Ozee said he obtained the information from officials at what he called the "Oklahoma State Association." When we asked about the specific source, he replied, "I'm not going to discuss that."
But according to OSSAA officials, neither Ozee nor anyone from Southlake contacted them with questions about Garman's ineligibility in Oklahoma this fall.
In a statement issued to News 8 after the Ozee interview, Carroll ISD communications director Julie Thannum wrote: "...the line of questioning caused Mr. Ozee to respond in a manner that may have confused the issue."
"Carroll ISD did not speak to anyone [at OSSAA] and has no obligation to do so, but rather, we had the appropriate documentation," the Carroll ISD spokeswoman said in her statement.
Ultimately, according to the OSSAA, Southlake's documentation — critical to determining eligibility — was outdated and incomplete.
When we asked Ozee if he should have actually contacted the OSSAA, he responded: "Excuse me; pardon me; am I on trial? Am I on trial?"
The matter is now the concern of the former chairman of the Conference 5A District 6 Executive Committee, who says the executive committee relied on Southlake to investigate Garman's eligibility.
He was surprised to learn Garman was, in fact, not eligible to play in Oklahoma during his senior year.
"I understand that if that's the case, yes, I would feel that I was — or that the DEC was — misled," Rogers said.
Rogers added that based on new evidence uncovered by our investigation, Garman's status as Southlake quarterback begs a more thorough review.
"Well, there's no doubt that if there is more evidence as you allude to, then certainly there's more questions that need to be asked, whether it's by the DEC or the state UIL," he said
Athletic Director Ozee stands by Southlake's position that the Garmans moved to Southlake in February, because the father was moving his business to North Texas. He said the family has satisfied all of the UIL requirements, and he has evidence that Garman is, in fact, eligible to still play football in Oklahoma this year.
Still, Ozee has declined to share that with us.
The matter will now be referred to the new District Executive Committee, the local decision-making body for the UIL, which will likely take up the matter in the coming days.