OHSAA punishes Walsh Jesuit for recruiting violations involving donor-funded sports scholarships

Michael Beaven
Akron Beacon Journal
Ohio High School Athletic Association. ... OHSAA Logo, 2016

The Ohio High School Athletic Association has punished Walsh Jesuit High School for recruiting violations involving donor-funded sports scholarships for 11 athletes.

The violations were tied to the girls soccer and wrestling programs and resulted in the termination of longtime girls soccer coach Dino McIntyre when the violations were first self-reported by Walsh Jesuit in December. The private school in Cuyahoga Falls also suspended wrestling coach David Mariola Jr. earlier this season and reinstated him two weeks ago.

The OHSAA announced Thursday that Walsh Jesuit “self-reported a violation of Bylaw 4-9, Recruiting, when individuals within its athletic department obtained monies from outside donors and provided scholarships to students based on athletic participation.”

The bylaws prohibit "providing financial aid or scholarships to a student-athlete on the basis of athletic ability."

The OHSAA is requiring the 11 student-athletes to relinquish the money paid by the donors for their tuition at Walsh Jesuit for the 2020-21 school year.

If any of the athletes decide to retain the scholarship and don't pay the money back by a specified deadline, or if they transfer to another school prior to repaying this money, they will be subject to a period of ineligibility in each sport in which they participate.  

Walsh Jesuit President Karl Ertle said the 11 student-athletes are either on the girls soccer or wrestling team. He said those 11 student-athletes remain enrolled at Walsh.

“We fully expect them to be Warriors and to graduate in great standing down the road,” Ertle said.

Ertle said he was first informed of a violation of rules near the middle of December.

“I am still waiting for final confirmation from the OHSAA regarding our consequences,” Ertle said. “We have been back-and-forth many times with the OHSAA reviewing different things as they ask for more information or more details about the things that we did self-report.”

Ertle declined to identify the donors but did they say they “apologized” and “were not aware of the road they were going down.”

“We were not accused of anything,” Ertle said. “We discovered an issue and immediately brought in a third-party group so that we could have a full and thorough investigation. We want to be good partners with all of the other schools in the OHSAA.

“... We deeply apologize to all of our competitive schools and friendly rivals. We will be in complete compliance going forward.”

McIntyre, Mariola and Walsh Athletic Director Mark Hassman did not respond Thursday to efforts by the Beacon Journal to contact them.

OHSAA spokesperson Tim Stried said in an email that the executive director’s office has acknowledged the school’s self-imposed penalties/corrective actions, which also included the following:

• McIntyre is not be eligible to coach at Walsh Jesuit again and will be excluded from the Walsh Jesuit campus for a minimum of 42 months, until the current freshman class graduates.

• The involved donors are banned from the Walsh Jesuit campus for two years and forbidden from making donations, having connections or communication with Walsh Jesuit sports teams for five years.

• All Walsh Jesuit coaches will attend an OHSAA recruiting seminar.

• An athletic administrator was suspended for two weeks and will participate in the OHSAA training.

 • Walsh Jesuit implemented a new protocol for the business office to have third-party tuition payments more carefully reviewed.

• The Board of Education established an athletic committee that will begin a top-to-bottom review of all procedures and processes and confer with other schools regarding best practices.

In addition to these self-imposed penalties/corrective actions, Walsh Jesuit is publicly reprimanded by OHSAA and placed on probation through the remainder of the 2021 calendar year.

The OHSAA Office accepted Walsh Jesuit’s request for a training session for all its coaches.

The school has been fined $500 and should McIntyre gain employment at a different OHSAA member school for the 2021 soccer season, he will be ineligible for the 2021 OHSAA postseason soccer tournament.

Ertle said girls soccer and wrestling are the only two programs that were sanctioned by the OHSAA. He said no other athletic programs are under investigation.

“The immediate emotion was that I was very concerned because of our relationship with the other schools,” Ertle said. “We signed our good name that we will follow the bylaws, and we certainly want to do that. We want to be good partners with the OHSAA. Each year in the spring, our board votes to belong to the association and to follow the bylaws. That was really worrisome that we had not been.”

In an unrelated matter, Buchtel was fined $100 on Thursday for failure to provide the proper paperwork before the deadline to the OHSAA for an eligible student athlete who transferred to the school.

Michael Beaven can be reached at mbeaven@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MBeavenABJ.