I have seemingly been the lonely voice of dissent in the recent discussions about Dakotah Euton and his attempt to transfer to Scott County. My differing attitude is based solely on the fact that cheating in high school athletics in the state of Kentucky has been a common-place occurrence for many years. I believe that when an elite athlete, and his elite athlete teammate ( Chad Jackson ) decide to transfer to the same school, which is located a couple of hundred miles from their previous residence, that all due diligence is required by the KHSAA to ensure no enticements were offered by either the school, or that school's boosters.
As most of us now know, Clay Euton ( Dakotah's father ) lost his job ( his work-place closed their doors ) and he ultimately, and evidently legitimately found gainful employment within the borders of Scott County. I have seen no evidence pointing to any enticement involved in Mr. Euton's move to Scott County. One would assume that KHSAA commissioner Brigid DeVries hasn't unearthed a back-room deal involving Mr. Euton and Scott County, or otherwise she would have stated as much in her public release of her findings. The best she can do to support her denial of the transfer is the following:
"Because of public statements by Clay Euton indicating that his son's transfer to Scott County was in whole or partly motivated by a desire to play basketball at the school, as well as concerns involving the recent transfer of AAU basketball teammates to Scott County", the request for the waiver is denied.
What exactly does that mean? To me it reads like a veiled accusation of wrongdoing pointed at Scott County, as well as Mr. Euton. DeVries doesn't come out and say that cheating occurred, nor does she make any accusatory statements. Her words were selected carefully, I am sure, but relevance seems to be lacking. It is irrelevant that Mr. Euton said that they "looked at the facilities" at Scott County, and liked the basketball program. Without evidence that Mr. Euton was lured or enticed to Georgetown, his words are just that; complimentary words. If DeVries has evidence that such enticement did in fact occur, then it is incumbent upon her to publicly release all relevant information which led her to deny the waiver. Falling back onto the bylaw which states that a transfer cannot be executed if athletics are the reason for said transfer is weak, and lacks merit. The primary reason for the attempted transfer is job loss, as demonstrated by Mr. Euton's lack of employment.
The fact that DeVries uses two previous transfers into Scott County by AAU basketball teammates as further reasoning to deny the waiver is patently unfair to the Euton's, and more importantly absent verifiable evidence. To punish Euton because of previous, evidently legal transfers, is tantamount to a "witch hunt". After-all, if the earlier "offending" transfers were illegal according to the KHSAA, then why were they allowed? Since the previous transfers were granted approval, what sense does it make to use those transfers as a reason to deny Dakotah Euton?
Brigid DeVries apparently has suspicions. Suspicions that some type of inducement occurred which led the Euton's to Scott County. Suspicions that everything is not kosher at the 11th Region power. Suspicions are alright for Elvis and Eddie Rabbit, but suspicions don't rise to the standard of proof that must be present in order to deny a young man an opportunity to play ball in the same county where his father is employed. Being suspicious, but without proof, leaves one with, well, suspicions. Nothing more. Brigid, until you can gather damning evidence, and present it to the public in the same manner you issued your denial, then don't expect to receive any "job well dones"; expect the suspicion finger to be pointed right back at you.
Another aspect of of DeVries' statement that smacks of ineptitude is her plea of poverty. She notes that the KHSAA has limited resources in which to thoroughly investigate the nearly one-thousand transfers per year. With a nearly 4 million dollar budget one would think that a few dollars could be set aside to properly investigate athletic transfers, especially high profile transfers. Besides, using a lack of funding as an excuse, and as reasoning for a transfer denial, is unjust. It's not the Euton's fault that the KHSAA cannot manage their budget efficiently. She might as well have said, "I suspect that cheating has occurred via the recruitment of Dakotah Euton, but I can't prove it because I can't afford the cost of investigation." Those words would have at least been honest.
The larger question is; what must Dakotah be thinking about? He thinks he has found a new high school, a new coach, and new teammates ( most of them anyway ), but with the stroke of a pen all of that reality is wiped away. Regardless of how this scenario plays out, Dakotah comes out a loser: If his father's job loss is legitimate ( and it certainly seems to be ), and his intended transfer to Scott Co. was absent any untoward activity, then what lesson has he been taught?
Being unjustly punished can be damaging to a young man, and can trigger feelings of suspicion of authority. Knowing one didn't break any rules or laws, and yet still receive punishment for the "crime" has to be disheartening. Lesson learned: Don't trust authority figures. Thanks, Brigid.
I am interested in justice. Justice not only for the Euton's but also for all other high school competitors, who sacrifice, work, and compete. Ensuring that fairness exists for all is a tough, and thankless job. It is also a serious undertaking, which should be handled by serious people. Considering Kentucky has a reckless past as it pertains to cheating at the high school level, all due diligence needs to be exercised in the enforcement of the bylaws and statutes present in the KHSAA rules handbook. That doesn't mean though, that a "feeling" of suspicion is all that is needed to deny a young man a chance play at the school of his, and his families choosing. I, and others demand more.
There will be one more opportunity for the Eutons and Scott County to plead their case. An appeal process is available to the parties, where hopefully reason and sanity will override the suspicions of DeVries. One can only hope that a ruling is offered up in time for Euton to compete in the upcoming high school basketball season. For anything else to happen would be an injustice to Dakota and his family, as well as Scott County.
I appreciate that Ms. DeVries has a difficult job. But ensuring competitive balance by providing competent officiating ( insert giggle ), and being keenly aware of the particulars surrounding the transfer of an athlete, should be her highest priorities every morning that she arrives at work.
Thanks for reading, and Go 'Cats!
EDITORS NOTE: 6/21/08 @ 1:48 pm CST -- Per Joe B. Hall, Clay Euton has found employment in Lexington. An interesting twist.