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One of Jordan transfers could have another shot to play football

Published September 19, 2012 8:24 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Although a trial is scheduled in November for Dynamite-Jones Fa'agata's lawsuit against the Utah High School Activities Association, the teenager's attorney is still fighting for him to take the field for the Jordan football team this season.

Fa'agata, who came from the Bay Area in California this spring from Encinal High School, was denied a hardship waiver and athletic eligibility by the UHSAA weeks ago, and a District Court judge refused to grant an order that would have allowed him and fellow transfer Clifford Betson to play.

But since the original hardship waiver was filed, Fa'agata's mother, Lisi Fa'agata, has moved to Utah, which attorney Laura Lui hopes can give Fa'agata another shot with the UHSAA and in the courtroom. Lui filed documents for a new waiver at the end of last week, which were also copied to the Tribune.

UHSAA legal counsel Mark Van Wagoner said the original panel which heard Fa'agata's case would be reconvened next week. Lui has also filed a motion for Judge Keith Kelly to reconsider the ruling on the temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction.

The motion is typically reserved for new evidence, which means Lui could argue that Lisi Fa'agata's move to Utah makes her son's transfer a full family move. The move was not revealed before Judge Kelly at the trial.

Lui was not immediately available for comment. Van Wagoner said the UHSAA will continue to fight the lawsuit and defend its panel's decision.

"Our response will be that this case has been heard, and we already have a ruling," he said. "I don't see anything new that she's filed that could affect the original decision."

The full trial is scheduled for Nov. 30, two weeks after the Class 5A football championships. The Beetdiggers are 5-0 and ranked as the Tribune's No. 1 team in 5A. They are also in several national rankings.

Fa'agata has been linked with Betson since the two moved to Utah this spring with relatives who live in Jordan boundaries. Hardship waivers for both boys were filed two days before the season by their uncle, Stuart Tua. During the appeal process, it came out that several signatures on their forms were forged. Tua invoked the Fifth Amendment when asked if he had forged the signatures.

Both boys have maintained that they transferred from their respective schools in California to escape violent surroundings.

— Kyle Goon

kgoon@sltrib.com

Twitter: @kylegoon