Arizona Interscholastic Association upholds playoff ban for Notre Dame Prep

Posted at 3:24 PM, Oct 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-29 01:43:30-04

The state board has decided to soften one of the penalties initially levied against Notre Dame Preparatory's football team.

At a meeting Friday afternoon, the Arizona Interscholastic Association reduced the first violation down to a 2-year warning because the school fired head coach Mark Nolan earlier in the week. The second violation, in which the team was penalized with a one-year probation, was upheld by a 5-4 decision.

The team initially was penalized with one year of probation for two alleged violations of AIA rules, including recruiting violations and having players practice in pads during the summer.

The board's vote means the school cannot participate in the playoffs, despite posting a 7-2 record so far this season.

The decision comes several hours before the school takes on Vista Grande for their homecoming game. 

Mark Nolan provided ABC15 a written statement about the situation. We have embedded it below in its entirety.

At the game, parents tried to stay positive for the students.

"It's crushing because the boys worked hard all year," said Dr. Marlene Robles, parent of a cheerleader. "It' s unfortunate for the boys because they really didn't have a say in it."

Other parents are still angry that more school officials are not in trouble for the alleged rule violations. 

"They had a great chance to teach these kids a life lesson by resigning," said Joe Jaquint, whose son is on the football team. "Because that's what you do. You hold yourself accountable when you do the wrong thing and that just didn't happen."

In addition to Nolan's dismissal, athletic director Monica Barrett will serve one week of paid administrative leave. President James Gmelich offered to do the same, but was denied and instead will donate one week's salary to charity. The school has since also removed the President from responsibility for any duties regarding academics, athletics and extracurricular activities. Those duties now fall entirely within the Principal of the school.

The Catholic Diocese of Phoenix, which oversees Notre Dame, has also launched an independent investigation into possible additional violations and remains in progress.