Mooney accused of recruiting

The Ohio High School Athletic Association is investigating accusations that a former assistant football coach illegally tried to recruit middle school players to attend Cardinal Mooney High School.

On Thursday, the OHSAA released a statement outlining allegations made by the Struthers School District against Cardinal Mooney.

Due to the investigation and possible punishment, the coach, whose name has not been released, has resigned his position with the Cardinals’ football staff.

“In our investigation, this was one coach acting alone,” said Randy Rair, assistant superintendent of the Diocese of Youngstown schools. “It wasn’t a systematic situation. This was a coach going off on his own and breaking the rules.

”Again, once we found out, we needed to turn it over to the OHSAA,” Rair said.

According to Rair, the district began a self-investigation roughly six weeks ago when Struthers Superintendent Joseph Nohra notified the Youngstown Diocese of the allegations.

The OHSAA news release states that two eighth-graders from Struthers Middle School were hosted at a dinner by a coach from Mooney about their possible matriculation to the school.

One of the students has been accepted to attend Cardinal Mooney High School, while it has been alleged that the other student continues to receive text messages from another coach at Mooney, according to the news release.

The commissioner’s office has ruled that the two students will be ineligible for interscholastic athletics for one year from their date of enrollment should they choose to enroll in and attend Cardinal Mooney as freshmen in 2013-14.

Penalties against Mooney have not been applied, pending completion of the investigation.

Though those are the allegations set forth, Rair argues some of the events, as per the Diocese’s investigation, are unfounded.

“One coach was accused to text messaging a Struthers player,” Rair said. “We have found no evidence of that. As far as we’re concerned, he hasn’t done that and we think that is unfounded.

“The other allegation was that a coach took two players and their families to a meal. We found that only one family went to this meal, so only one of the two was involved. The other boy they don’t know who he is. He wasn’t there.”

In regards to the student, Rair thinks the OHSAA’s punishment against him is unwarranted.

“I’m disappointed in the OHSAA cause I feel that an adult, employee of ours, was at fault, and that the 14-year-old boy, who doesn’t know what the rules are, is the one being punished. I’m disappointed in that ruling,” Rair said.

A call to OHSAA commissioner Dr. Daniel B. Ross was unsuccessful.

This is not the first time Mooney has been under fire for possible recruitment of players. At the beginning of the 2012 football season, junior football player Nick Bilas fought in court for his right to play for the Cardinals after transferring to the Catholic school from Poland.

While Mooney never was under fire for recruiting Bilas, Poland fought that he should have to sit out a year for transferring to the school for athletic reasons, which is per OHSAA bylaw.