Appeal leaves CHS football coaches in limbo

School District fights recruiting violation

Thursday’s appeal hearing in Chehalis revealed more into a recruiting investigation on Camas High School head football coach Jon Eagle and defensive coordinator Dan Kielty.

Although the WIAA Executive Board voted to reduce Eagle’s suspension from four games to three, Kielty’s punishment has been extended from one to three games. The CHS athletic program was put on probation for one year. The school has also been fined $2,000.

Althetic Director Rory Oster said these are game time only suspensions. Eagle and Kielty will still be able to run team practices and meetings.

A self report by Oster states a student from another school approached Kielty and asked about transferring to Camas High School to play football. Instead of asking the student to speak with Oster, Kielty gave the student Eagle’s cell phone number.

The student and his grandfather contacted Eagle. On March 14, Eagle met with the athlete and his grandfather at a local business to answer questions they had about transfer rules. Eagle informed them that the only way he would be eligible and allowed to play football is if his family moved into the Camas School District. Eagle also answered the student’s questions about the Camas football program.

On March 16, Oster received an e-mail from the grandfather asking about the process his grandson must go through to play football for the Papermakers. Oster responded with no prior knowledge of the meeting between Eagle and the student two days before.

“As soon as I was made aware of the phone call and the meeting which took place with coaches of Camas High School football staff and this student-athlete, I immediately took action by interviewing both coaches involved to find out what happened and what was said,” Oster wrote in his report. “I informed these coaches that this was an unacceptable action that is not condoned by the Camas School District Athletic Program.”

Oster e-mailed the entire CHS coaching staff to inform them of the proper procedures when they are contacted by potential student-athletes from outside the district. He also reported his findings to Greater St. Helens League President Leta Meyer and the rest of the league’s athletic directors.

Eagle and Kielty have declined to comment on the investigation. Although Oster doesn’t believe that recruiting took place, league officials felt otherwise. On May 6, they voted to suspend Eagle for four games and Kielty for one.

The WIAA Handbook defines recruiting as a Level 3 violation. Coaches could be suspended up to one year, schools fined $2,500, and teams required to forfeit games.

Eagle and Kielty did not receive the maximum penalty. The Camas football program has not been banned from postseason play. Oster said the school district plans to appeal Thursday’s vote.

“I wholeheartedly believe there was absolutely no attempt to recruit an athlete from another school,” Oster said in a statement May 6. “Coach Eagle has the highest level of integrity and professionalism. He has never been accused of a violation of any kind in his 30-year-career. We intend to appeal this decision to the highest level.”