The Milton boys basketball program won the Class AAAAA 2011-12 state title, but the Eagles will not be able to defend the crown after the GHSA ruled Tuesday that the program is not eligible for postseason play this year.
In a release issued by the GHSA, the Georgia High School Association ruled that Milton has been placed on probation for the 2012-13 season for violating GHSA rules in regard to “undue influence.” The program was also placed on “Severe Warning Status” for the 2013-14 season, but is eligible for postseason play. The release also noted that Milton was fined an undisclosed amount of money.
“Undue influence” is defined by the GHSA as “things done by one or more people associated directly or indirectly with a member school to induce or facilitate the transfer of a student to that school. Undue influence can occur even when there is no evidence of recruitment. In those circumstances, no school personnel initiated the conversation about transferring schools, but school personnel did engage in actions that induced and/or facilitated the transfer.”
The GHSA stated in its release that no evidence was discovered that former Milton boys basketball coach David Boyd initiated contact with prospective transfer students and/or their parents or guardians. Boyd resigned as Milton’s head coach Sept. 10 after a meeting with Milton principal Clifford Jones and Fulton County Athletic Director Dr. Steven Craft.
The following morning, Jones and Craft addressed the media in front of the school, announcing that the county had begun an investigation after receiving information that warranted investigating.
“Very simply, an allegation was brought to my attention, I sat down with Mr. Jones, we discussed it and we felt like there was probably enough merit to investigate, so we investigated the situation,” said Craft at the press conference.
Fulton County handled the investigation before turning over the findings to the GHSA for a ruling.
According to the GHSA, the investigation found no evidence that any of the transfer students mentioned in this matter had failed to have a bona fide move into the Milton service area. Therefore, all the students mentioned in this investigation are eligible to compete at the varsity level in the upcoming 2012-13 season.
A source at the school noted that two out-of-state transfer students had already left the district. The team was expected to accept as many as five transfers for the upcoming season.
While many believed that Boyd’s departure stemmed from recruiting violations, the GHSA was quick to point out that it was not recruiting but a violation of the undue influence rule.
“Some of the undue influence issues involved using the school’s summer workouts as a way to evaluate the talents of non-students who were considering transferring to Milton, facilitating the housing arrangements of families moving into the area and offering help with communication about a student’s collegiate possibilities before the player was a student at Milton,” according to the GHSA’s statement.
The GHSA pointed out that the probation and postseason ban only cover the issues that were discovered during the recent investigation and submitted to the GHSA office by Milton and Fulton County. While Milton still holds its two recent basketball titles, any other discovery of past violations or any future violations could result in additional penalties.
The GHSA normally does not make public specific rulings and/or penalties made against member schools, but because of the intense publicity surrounding the investigation, the GHSA went against its policy in the interest of accuracy.
Samantha Evans, Executive Director of Communications for Fulton County Schools, confirmed to Score that the Fulton County School system received the Georgia High School Association’s investigation report Tuesday regarding alleged undue influence by former Milton High School boys basketball coach David Boyd.
“It was Fulton County Schools that first brought the allegation to the GHSA’s attention, and the school system agrees with the GHSA’s findings and will adhere to its decisions, which include placing the team on probation for 2012-13,” Evans told Score. “With the investigation concluded, it is our hope that the school community can now return its focus to academics and to athletics programs of integrity and excellence.”
The Milton athletic department directed all inquiries to Evans’ office.