Wasatch Academy's title fans flames in recruiting dispute
Richfield • Until this season, few small-town Utah basketball fans noticed Wasatch Academy.
But the private Mount Pleasant boarding school established in 1875 that boasts students from 33 nations started winning, including not only its first victory in a state tournament, but also the Class 1A title.
Even though private schools Waterford and Layton Christian won 1A titles in recent years, the fact that Wasatch Academy defeated another private school, Liahona, for the title and that Intermountain Christian made it to the semifinals raised some concerns about recruiting.
Asked if he had heard about that this year, Utah High School Activities Association assistant director Bart Thompson smiled.
"Only every time I turn around," he said. "There is grumbling that this is not real 1A basketball and there is cheating going on. There is concern about so many new students in one year."
Thompson said Wasatch Academy has been investigated to see if any rules had been broken, but nothing has been found, though the investigation isn't over.
Wasatch Academy endured mocking chants of "USA! USA!" from fans who know that nine of its players come from outside the U.S. Security officers said some parents from Rich got into heated verbal jousting with students from the private school Friday night. Tigers coach Geno Morgan said his players have been dealing with the taunts all year.
"Basketball is a universal game, and at the end of the day, these are kids," Morgan said. "I take offense to it because these are my kids. I don't give a crap as to where they are from."
Veteran Rich coach Asley Brown said that the state association needs to do something about the situation, but he wasn't sure what.
"As long as the state allows [schools] to do this, they will get the best kids they can," he said.