Galion High School football coach Chris Hawkins is still facing a suspension handed down by the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) for violating bylaws related to the recruiting of players, as prescribed by OHSAA Bylaw 4-9.
The OHSAA released the following statement Friday in regard to the Board of Directors denying Hawkins’ appeal to have the suspension overturned:
“The OHSAA Board of Directors heard the appeal from administrators at Galion High School and its head football coach, Chris Hawkins, on Wednesday and reached a decision Thursday. The board voted to deny the appeal and uphold the penalties as they are currently prescribed, however the board also proposed that if Galion school administrators will invoke their own penalties and work with the OHSAA staff to implement an educational plan regarding OHSAA bylaws, there could potentially be a reduction of the penalties issued by the OHSAA.”
Hawkins spoke about the OHSAA’s decision on Friday afternoon after Tigers football practice.
“I appreciate the OHSAA board hearing our appeal and, as I mentioned to them Wednesday, there were some inadvertent misconceptions regarding some bylaws on my part, to which I own up,” Hawkins stated. “However, there was never any intent to recruit or entice the player in question. After hearing the appeal, I believe OHSAA also realized there was no intent. Thus, our school is going to come up with an action plan to make sure it doesn’t occur again and also to help educate other north central schools.”
Galion athletic director Kyle Baughn said the district has been in the process of developing an action plan since the initial ruling was made public by the OHSAA on July 21. According to a press release issued by the Galion City School District on July 21, the district self-reported the violations of OHSAA Bylaw 4-9 regarding recruiting in early June.
“I want to educate all of my coaches on the ‘Dos’ and ‘Don’ts’ of OHSAA bylaws,” Baughn said. “We hope to be able to extend our educational plan for other schools to use to help them avoid any violations of bylaws. We have been transparent with OHSAA throughout this process and will continue to do so.”
Under terms of the OHSAA ruling, Hawkins will be suspended from participating in any and all coaching activity for the first two games of the 2015 regular season.
The athlete involved in the violations has been suspended from participation in all scrimmages and preseason games for the 2015 season. He has also been suspended from participation in the first regular season game of 2015.
The Galion High School athletic department has been placed on probation for a period of two years, effective until Aug. 1, 2017.
The Galion City School District has been fined $750 and will be required to submit an action plan to the OHSAA regarding the education of coaches about Bylaw 4-9. The action plan will be made public once the plan has been submitted to and approved by the OHSAA.
In regard to the possible reduction in penalties mentioned in the OHSAA’s statement, Baughn said it was not clear whether that was in reference to the suspensions of Hawkins and the athlete involved in the violations, the duration of the Galion athletic department’s probationary period, the fine levied against the district, or all of the aforementioned. He said he has been in regular communication with the OHSAA and hopes to receive clarification regarding the reduction penalties next week.
Andrew Carter can be reached at 419-468-1117, ext. 2048. Connect with him on Twitter @ACGalionSports.