Weber High’s principal is retiring amid an investigation into how she handled allegations of improper recruiting

The school’s assistant football coach was fired; The head coach served a one-game suspension despite there being “no evidence” that he was involved in improper recruiting.

(Weber School District) At Weber High School in Pleasant View, the principal has decided to retire after questions were raised about how she handled an investigation into a football program.

Weber High School’s Chris Earnest has decided to retire, the Weber School District announced Thursday as it concluded its investigation into how it handled allegations that the school inappropriately recruited football players from another district.

She had been on administrative leave since August 16, awaiting the results of the investigation.

“As the investigation concluded, Ms. Earnest informed the district through her attorney that she was retiring effective immediately,” said district spokesman Lane Findlay. “Because Ms. Earnest has chosen to retire, there is nothing further the district can do.”

Findlay said that due to Earnest’s resignation and a “signed nondisclosure agreement,” the district does not plan to release any further information about its completed investigation.

Earnest had served the Weber School District for 31 years and earned her retirement benefits, according to the district’s news release.

Her departure comes shortly after the school’s assistant football coach, Zac Connors, was fired after a district investigation found he exercised undue influence by recruiting two players from the Davis School District.

“Undue influence” refers to the improper recruitment of athletes from other schools, a practice prohibited by the Utah High School Activities Association.

Earnest was originally tasked with investigating complaints made over the summer about inappropriate recruiting of football players. However, the district later received complaints alleging that Earnest mishandled the situation. This triggered a second district-level investigation.

“Although this investigation took longer than the district would have liked, it was necessary to investigate the complaints received by the district,” Findlay said. “Anything other than investigating the reports would have resulted in an incomplete investigation.”

The two students in question were eligible to continue playing football at Weber High after an Aug. 31 eligibility hearing, UHSAA attorney Mark Van Wagoner said.

According to UHSAA guidelines, a student may transfer to another school and participate in athletics under certain circumstances, such as a family move or as a result of a divorce.

However, if they want to transfer and play sports for reasons not approved by the UHSAA, they must compete at the sub-varsity level for 12 months before being eligible for varsity, according to the UHSAA handbook.

When violations occur in athletics, regional bodies are typically responsible for taking any disciplinary action. Weber is in the 6A Region 1 for track and field.

UHSAA spokesman Jeff Cluff previously told the Salt Lake Tribune that the Weber School District voluntarily reported its violations to Region 1, which is fairly common.

The regional board could impose sanctions on Weber High’s football program, Findlay said.

Although the final decision is unknown at this time, Findlay said the district recommended that head coach Jayson Anderson serve a one-game suspension during the Sept. 1 varsity game against Wasatch, which he has already done.

Although the district’s investigation found that Anderson was not involved in recruiting the two players, he bears responsibility as the head of the football program, Findlay said.

“There was no evidence of this [Anderson] was involved in this,” Findlay said. “But because he is above the program and responsible for it, we felt this was an appropriate sanction.”

The Region 1 Board of Directors approved the recommendation and will present it at the next UHSAA Executive Committee meeting, scheduled for Oct. 4. The committee has the final say on whether to accept or reject the board’s recommendations.

In the meantime, Weber High will look for a replacement for Earnest.

“Upcoming administrative changes are expected to take place at the school in the next few weeks,” the release said.

Justin Scaccy

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