SHEPHERDSVILLE – It is not exactly part of the job description, but as any local high school football coach will tell you, protecting your own territory ranks near the top of your jobs if you want to keep your job.
That was exactly what long-time North Bullitt head coach Brett Newton was doing a year ago when he turned in Holy Cross High School to the Kentucky High School Athletic Association for violating Bylaws 4 (enrollment) and 10 (recruitment). It was then that Newton became aware of two Zoneton Middle School students being entered in a weightlifting competition at Spencer County High School representing Holy Cross.
On Monday, the KHSAA placed the Holy Cross football program on probation through 2013 and the school was issued an administrative fine of $500. Already, Holy Cross had self-imposed penalties that included the suspension of the involved coaches (including head coach Todd Crumbacker) from the first five spring football practice sessions in 2013: restrictions on attendance at events in nearby counties: and other required policy and training requirements for all coaches at the school.
This is the third time since 2003 that Newton has reported infractions by Holy Cross to the KHSAA. At that time, the school was fined $1,000 and put on two years probation.
At least one of the two players in question ended up never attending Holy Cross and is presently enrolled at North Bullitt and is part of the football program.
Even with the outcome against Holy Cross, Newton did feel that the punishment fit the crime.
“If it had been a first-time thing, then it might have been fine,” the coach said on Monday. “But this was at least the third time for them, so I was thinking more (punishment).”
Newton said that he turned in the paperwork from the Spencer County competition with the two players’ names. That was an obvious infraction. Newton wanted the KHSAA to investigate who paid the players’ entrance fee into the event, but he doesn’t think the KHSAA ever took that step. If Holy Cross had paid that fee, then it would have meant another infraction concerning monetary gain.
“One concern I have is that the state did not investigate enough,” Newton said.
There has always been the push and pull between the public and private schools when it comes to acquiring players and students. The problem seems to be more prevalent at North Bullitt because of their proximity to Jefferson County. Newton says that he has had problems with Holy Cross and DeSales in the past, but that it has been a more persistent problem with Holy Cross.
Newton doesn’t feel that situation will change anytime soon. Crumbacker just completed his first season as the Holy Cross head coach. He played at Holy Cross.
Crumbacker grew up in Bullitt County and played in the Greater Bullitt County Youth Football League before attending Holy Cross. His sister was a cheerleader at North Bullitt for four years. So, he obviously has contacts within the league.
“Any gifted kid coming through our system, he will know about,” Newton pointed out. “What access he has, he can pursue them. He knows the coaches at Overdale and the other programs in the league.
“He’s not an outsider,” the Eagle coach added. “He has known them all of his life. It is easy access.”
Holy Cross said that they thought at after the two young men had taken the entrance exam for the school that they could compete in the weight-lifting event.
“Members of our new coaching staff involuntarily, and unknowingly, violated bylaw 10 from the KHSAA handbook,” said Holy Cross Athletic Director Jody Thornsberry. “Once the violation was brought to our attention, we immediately took the necessary steps to work with the KHSAA and rectify the situation.”
The final decision was handed down by KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett.
“As Commissioner, it is never easy to place sanctions on a school and potentially penalize young people, their families and school communities,” Tackett said in a press release. “However, the violations that have occurred are serious in nature and our member schools expect this office to investigate and administer the appropriate penalties that are prescribed in our bylaws when we have credible, detailed information.”
Newton is doing his due diligence and his efforts should be commended within the local community. Bullitt County cannot have its best and brightest swept away.
“We have two kids that Bullitt County schools want to represent them in the classroom and on the athletic field,” Newton concluded. “It is part of my job to keep them in our county.”