Attorney: 'Helping The Kids' No Excuse For Jenks Rules Violations

Saturday, October 3rd 2009, 4:48 pm
By: News On 6

JENKS, OK -- "Helping the kids" is no justification for violating OSSAA rules to advance a winning football team, concludes a report by J. Douglas Mann, the attorney hired to investigate Jenks recruitment practices. In a 38-page report addressed to Jenks Superintendent Dr. Kirby Lehman, Mann details 24 "personal and institutional errors and omissions in the dealing with Jenks student-athletes" made by Jenks boosters, coaches, volunteers and athletic department.

The report describes the recruitment and residency of football player Jarrett Lake. Starting with a visit from Lake in the spring of 2008 to a Trojan training camp to the conclusion of a July 23, 2009, hearing at the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Athletic Association, the football program made numerous mistakes in "what appears to be a subterfuge to further the advancement of a winning football program," Mann said.

Read Mann's Report To Superintendent Kirby

An anonymous e-mail to the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Athletic Association on April 10 started the investigation into the Jenks High School football that caused the self-imposed suspension of Coach Allan Trimble on Friday. 

The e-mail demanded that football player Jarrett Lake be ruled ineligible because of his living arrangements in the Jenks School District.

Lake, originally from North Carolina, was introduced to the Jenks football program by Claire Williams, a family friend. Though Williams is not related to Lake by blood or marriage, she accompanied him to a Jenks spring training camp and later arranged for his residency in the Jenks School District in 2008.

Errors Begin With Training Camp Visit

Problems with Jarrett Lake's recruitment began with the spring training camp where he was interviewed by Jenks coaches, allowed to work out with the football players and participate as a team member when he was not enrolled as a student at Jenks.

Mann also notes that Jarrett Lake was not fully charged for the 2008 football camps that he attended.

The football program also erred in Lake's enrollment at the school later that year when Athletic Director Tony Dillingham failed to send athletic eligibility forms to a military school the student had attended.

"Had he done so, Jarrett's academic eligibility issues would have immediately come to light," the attorney said.

Dillingham failed to determine if Lake was in good academic standing and also erred by not following up to make sure Williams had obtained legal guardianship of the player.

Although Williams did become Lake's legal guardian, it was not until August of 2009.

A Question Of Residency

OSSAA Rule 8 states that eligibility for an athlete is generally determined by the residence of the student's parents or legal guardian. Under the rule, school districts are responsible for conducting investigations into whether a student's parent or guardian has made a bona fide move into the district.

Lake lived first with Clyde "Red" Griffith, a retired carpenter who worked for Jenks Public Schools for 17 years and a volunteer for the football program. Though Williams paid for both herself and Lake to rent rooms from Griffith, she "never spent a single night in Mr. Griffith's residence and apparently never visited Mr. Griffith's residence," the attorney found.

Head Coach Allan Trimble facilitated the living arrangements, Mann said.

Lake later moved into the home of Tyrone Lynn, the father of a Jenks football player Lake had befriended.

Mann concludes that "repeated assertions by the Jenks Athletic Director to the OSSAA of the residency of Jarrett in the Jenks School District should not have been made without a complete investigation.

"The fact that Jarrett's residence was later revealed to be a complete sham has no doubt undermined the District's credibility with the OSSAA," he said.

Coach Trimble's errors in Jarrett Lake's recruitment included:

  • Allowing Lake to participate in the football program before he was enrolled at Jenks
  • Facilitating Lake's move into the home of former JPS employee and volunteer coach Red Griffith
  • Not requesting a residency check to see if Jarrett and Williams were truly living with Red Griffith
  • Not notifying the principal and superintendent of the eligibility hearing on July 23, 2009 in sufficient time for them to investigate the issues
  • Traveling to the eligibility hearing in the same vehicle with Williams and Lake

"The head coach should not have facilitated the living arrangements between Mr. Griffith and Ms. Williams," Mann said. "Persons seeking residence in Jenks don't seek out 70-yearold men who happen to be in the Sharp Center to be their landlord."

Additional Recruitment Problems Noted

The report notes past instances of apparent OSSAA Rule 9 violations. Rule 9 regulate inappropriate recruiting incentives for players. Other student athletes, whose stories have not been as public as Jarrett Lakes, are listed by number. Mann's investigation confirmed that the booster club has given financial help to the families of talented players. Boosters have also helped get jobs for family members of players.

In 1998 Coach Trimble found two envelopes in his mail slot at school that were addressed to students and contained cash from a booster club member. Mann notes that Trimble returned to the envelopes to the booster club president, and the member who sent the cash was banned from the club. However, Mann said there was not sufficient evidence that Coach Trimble reported the incident to the then athletic director Tommy Burns, though Trimble says that he did.

In Conclusion

"The Athletic Director and the head football coach seem to have made significant efforts by omission and commission to keep the high school principal, the superintendent and the associate superintendent and other relevant District administrators ‘in the dark' as to many of the matters revealed in the investigation," Mann concludes.

The Jenks Public School district announced Friday that Trimble will serve a self-imposed suspension for the remainder of the semester. The Jenks School Board is expected to announce on Thursday if the athletic program will face any other penalties.