The day after their recruiting suspensions had been lifted, Jon Eagle and Dan Kielty couldn’t wait to get back to work.
More than 170 Camas High School students, and incoming freshmen, gathered for spring practice at Cardon Field. For the first time in a month, Eagle and Kielty could finally concentrate on football.
“I appreciate even more now the support from the Camas community and the Camas School District,” Eagle said. “We just want to get back to playing football.”
Eagle and Kielty faced suspensions of three games each for recruiting violations dating back to a meeting Eagle had with a student athlete from another school March 14.
Although Camas Athletic Director Rory Oster said this meeting should have never taken place, he has always stood by Eagle’s statement that he didn’t try to recruit the athlete.
On Thursday, the Washington State Interscholastic Activities Association’s district directors gave Eagle the opportunity to share with them the details of the meeting with the athlete and his grandfather.
Oster said Eagle advised the student to fulfill the commitment to his current team by playing out his senior year at his current high school. Once the WIAA district directors were able to confirm Eagle’s statement with the athlete’s grandfather, they lifted the suspensions on Eagle and Kielty.
“We are very grateful the district directors took the time to ask all the questions that needed to be answered and get the facts,” Oster said. “Nobody here actually thought Eagle and Kielty committed a WIAA violation. It’s unfortunate they had to go through this, but the support from kids, coaches, teachers and the administrative staff never wavered.”
The WIAA Executive Board reviewed the case for the final time over the weekend. Director Mike Colbrese said, although there was no intent by Eagle to recruit, meeting with an athlete instead of telling him to speak to the athletic director was a violation in protocol. The CHS athletic department is on probation for one year. Coaches will receive mandatory training on all WIAA rules and regulations. Eagle and Kielty will not be suspended for any games.
“These are very difficult decisions that are made based on consistency and knowing all the facts,” Colbrese said. “Everybody feels they got a chance to express their concerns, the board took a lot of time to go over all the facts and came up with something that feels like the appropriate way to go.”
Oster respects the final WIAA ruling. He said from day one, Eagle apologized for meeting with the athlete and not following protocol.
“A probation period and learning is what should have happened all along. It would have saved Eagle and Kielty from a lot of negative comments,” Oster said. “I really wish myself and all of the parties involved could have prevented that from happening.”
While this investigation was going on, Eagle and Kielty were getting the Papermaker track and field athletes ready for the district and state championship meets.
“You just have to compartmentalize things,” Eagle said. “You move on and do your best to put the kids first.”
“No matter what is going on with your life, you still have a job to do,” Kielty added. “We’re out here to make these kids better.”
Eagle said those rumors swirling around “taints a lot of hard work by athletes and coaches.” At the same time, he “cannot change what people believe.”
According to Kielty, the best remedy is to concentrate on all of the opportunities presented. Hundreds of Papermakers are coming out of the woodwork to play football for their community.
“We are very fortunate to be surrounded by great kids, coaches, community members, and people we know personally and professionally who care about us,” Kielty said. “We are in a pretty good situation right now.”