Football Player's Grade Changed for State Game

Football Player's Grade Changed for State Game

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News Specialist John Hollenhorst reporting

A high school principal is in hot water for quietly changing a student's grade so he would be eligible to play in an important football game.

The principal of Ogden's Bonneville High School admits changing the grade on the eve of the game.

But, he says, he thought it was the right thing to do at the time.

It's long been accepted that student athletes should maintain decent, if not good, or excellent academic grades.

But what happens if a report card comes out three days before the state football semifinals, and one of the players has two Fs?

This was the big game: Bountiful vs. Bonneville. The state 4-A semifinals.

After the game, at least one teacher at Bonneville blew the whistle, saying the principal was out of bounds, fixing things so a student with failing grades would be allowed to play.

"The district immediately held an investigation and appropriate action was taken," says Nate Taggart with the Weber School District.

"I can say he was asked to apologize to his staff, which he did," Taggart says.

Bonneville principal Lamar Hirschi admits changing a grade from F to P, from Fail to Pass. He now admits he made a mistake.

Hirschi was called in to explain his actions by the governing body of high school sports, the Utah High School Activities Association. Later, staffers said a rule may have been broken and referred the case to the governing board.

"I would be very surprised if there was a big action taken, like suspension," says Evan Excell with the Utah High School Activities Association.

Hirschi eventually decided not to talk to us on camera. But off camera, he told us he misunderstood the eligibility requirements and changed the grade because he thought it was in the best interest of the student.

Hirschi says he always thought the rule was that a student eligible to play at the beginning of a season would stay eligible until it was over.

When he found out that a late-season report card would knock a student out just before the big game, he changed the grade, temporarily he says, in the school computer.

His justification? He says he wasn't sure if the teacher followed a district rule which requires a failing student's family to be notified in advance.

That explanation didn't wash completely with the district.

"A decision was made that disciplinary action did need to be taken, and it was taken," Taggart says.

But Hirschi remains in the job, and the district has not disclosed exactly what his punishment is.

Because of that, there are some who wonder if the district has taken the matter seriously enough.

Hirschi admits, the teacher who gave the failing grade was furious about what happened.

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