Central Valley suspends football coach for two weeks
September 19, 2013 7:33 PM
Central Valley coach Mark Lyons addresses his team during a preseason session last year. He has been suspended for two games.
By Mike White Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Central Valley High School blew the whistle on itself, and now football coach Mark Lyons is suspended.
Central Valley, located in Beaver County, decided Thursday to suspend Lyons for two weeks because of his alleged contact with the parents of Tyler Beatrice, a starting lineman who transferred from Blackhawk to Central Valley in the spring. The contact allegedly occurred before Beatrice transferred.
Lyons will be permitted to coach the game tonight against Blackhawk, and the suspension starts Monday. He will miss the Sept. 27 showdown with undefeated and defending WPIAL champion West Allegheny and also the Oct. 4 game vs. Moon.
While suspended, Lyons will not be permitted to attend practices or have any contact with the team. Central Valley is 3-0 and the Post-Gazette's No. 3-ranked WPIAL Class AAA team.
This is a student-athlete transfer case with a twist. The WPIAL ruled Beatrice eligible in May, but then Central Valley came back to the WPIAL three months later and asked the league to revisit the case because of new evidence. In essence, Central Valley blew the whistle on itself.
WPIAL executive director Tim O'Malley said the case was highly unusual.
"Our board unanimously commended the Central Valley administration for coming forward," he said.
Neither the WPIAL nor Central Valley levied any penalties against Beatrice.
Blackhawk contested Beatrice's transfer, saying it was for athletic purposes, which is against WPIAL and PIAA rules. The WPIAL had a hearing in May with all parties involved and ruled Beatrice eligible.
But last month, Central Valley asked the WPIAL to re-examine the case because of new evidence. Central Valley said Lyons might have had contact with Beatrice's parents before the transfer, which might indicate recruiting.
"As a member in good standing with the WPIAL, the Central Valley school district felt an obligation to bring to the attention of the WPIAL the concerns over a potential contact between the coach and the student-athlete's parents," said Nick Perry, the superintendent of the Central Valley School District.
The WPIAL had a closed hearing Wednesday with Lyons and Central Valley officials. Perry was asked about the fact that Lyons reportedly offered Beatrice's father an assistant coach's position before his son transferred.
"I'm not going into personnel issues from a closed hearing, but I can tell you that was not the focal point of the hearing," Perry said.
O'Malley said the offering of a coaching job to Beatrice's father "was disputed."
After the hearing, the WPIAL ruled Lyons had not violated any WPIAL and PIAA bylaws and deferred any actions to Central Valley. In essence, the WPIAL put the ball back in Central Valley's court, and the school then suspended Lyons.
"We want to rectify this situation and move forward," Perry said.
In other WPIAL news, the league ruled Khalil Caracter eligible to play football at Beaver Falls after transferring from Freedom.
Caracter rushed for 714 yards last season. Freedom contested his transfer, claiming it was for athletic intent. The WPIAL made its ruling after a hearing Wednesday with Caracter and officials from Beaver Falls and Freedom.
"We didn't feel his transfer back [to the Beaver Falls district] to live with his father was motivated for athletic purpose," O'Malley said.
There is an issue with Caracter's school attendance, however, that will affect when he is eligible to play. Caracter missed more than 20 days of school in the spring semester at Freedom. Under WPIAL and PIAA rules, a student who misses more than 20 days must be in attendance for 45 days before the student is eligible to play sports.
"Beaver Falls identified his 45th day as Sept. 24, but Freedom believes it is Oct. 1," O'Malley said. "We directed the two schools to work that out for when the 45th day is, and he will then become eligible."