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Last updated 5:20PM ET
February 27, 2021
Alabama
Alabama
Hoover Report Shows Athletes Treated Differently
(2007-10-15)
(APR - Alabama Public Radio ) - A report into improprieties at Hoover High School concluded that actions by administrators more than football coaches created preferential academic treatment for some standout football players.

Assistant Principal Carol Martin and Peer Helping Coordinator Terri Borie became so involved in helping one player's academic challenges that they "had in essence lost their objectivity and self-restraint," according to the report.

The Birmingham News has previously reported that player is Kerry Murphy, who signed with Alabama but did not qualify.

The report, conducted by Birmingham attorney Sam Pointer Jr., says that Hoover High athletics has "grown into a big business" and needs tighter administrative controls.

The News summarized Pointer's findings on its Web site Saturday. The entire 68-page report was posted on the Internet at http://www.hoover.k12.al.us.

The report says football coach Rush Propst's bank account records reflect he has been providing financial support for a second family in the Pell City area.

Pointer's report concludes that the grade change for a football player, identified by The News as Josh Chapman, a player at Alabama, was the result of "innocent human error" and was not an effort to inflate his grade.

The report states Borie received a call on her cell on May 30 from Alabama defensive coordinator Kevin Steele, who told Borie he learned the player was "seven one-thousandths" a point below the GPA he needed to be eligible.

Borie said he received the call from Steele because Alabama officials were having trouble reaching Cindy Bond, a college and career specialist.

The report criticizes former Hoover High Principal Richard Bishop for not reporting the use of ineligible junior varsity players to the Alabama High School Athletic Association, even after it was reported by The News.

Propst admitted he was responsible for the ineligible players being in uniform and defended himself by saying it was common for that to occur in JV games, the report states.

"The knowing and intentional use of ineligible players is disturbing, as is the fact Propst provided different explanations for how the violation occurred," the report states. "Perhaps more disturbing is Bishop's decision to disregard his Athletic Director's advice and not report the violation to the AHSAA."

Pointer began the investigation almost four months ago amid allegations of grade tampering for football players and pressure on teachers to give favorable grades. The investigation has cost more than $151,000.

On Thursday, school board President Donna Frazier described the issues in Pointer's report as "a cancer at Hoover High School" that the superintendent and his staff will have to correct.

"We didn't get here overnight," she told a parent group. "The change is not going to happen overnight."

The school district's plan to correct problems at Hoover High includes new procedures to better follow state ethics laws when coaches receive outside income.

In a Sept. 14 memo, Superintendent Andy Craig told all city high school principals, middle school principals and athletics director that employees must be mindful they cannot use their official positions for personal gain.

Among the changes that went into effect Oct. 1 was a requirement that money raised for the school district or any of its activities be handled through school accounts.

"This would include television and radio ventures," Craig wrote. "In this regard, please be cautious of arrangements that transfer rights to solicit funds on behalf of our programs and custody of the related assets to outside entities."

The News reported in July that the local TV and radio broadcasts of Hoover football games had been handled for many years through a private account outside the district and the team booster club.

Propst, the head coach, identified himself as a major fundraiser, with checks being written to the "Buccaneer Television Network." Propst has said he did not profit from the account and that past administrations "basically signed off on this."

Craig's memo reminded officials that a coach may not receive a salary supplement in cash or anything else of value from a booster club or any other group, "except as otherwise provided by law or as provided pursuant to a lawful employment agreement regulated by agency policy."

The memo also said, "Please note the broadness of 'anything of value' and 'any other group.'"

Sports camps, a moneymaker for many high school coaches, will now be accounted for on school books at Hoover schools.

Starting this month, employees who work a camp will be paid through the school system's payroll department out of residual income from the activity.

Coaches and employees cannot receive direct payment from schools, boosters or supporters of the camp.

Craig's memo also states that coaches must be on campus during normal school operating hours unless they have legitimate school-related responsibilities preapproved by the principal or designee.

Craig said further policies related to academics and finances likely will be implemented at a later date.

Meanwhile, attorneys for Bishop, the former principal, filed another notice to take deposition from Craig in Bishop's lawsuit against the school district. Craig will likely be deposed on Oct. 23, said Jim Sturdivant, an attorney for Bishop.


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