BHS coach accused of recruiting RVHS players

Some R2 Board Members Say
They Were Not Told About Violations

BLYTHEWOOD – An investigation aired last week by WIS-TV reported that Blythewood High School Head Coach Jason Seidel violated Richland School District Two’s “position on recruiting” by attempting to spirit away several football players from other Richland Two schools, including three from Ridge View High School, to play football for Blythewood High School.

Seidel

While numerous recruiting violations by Seidel reportedly occurred between mid-December, 2018 and the end of January, 2019, that information was not publicly acknowledged by the District until it was contacted on Aug. 14 by WIS which aired the story on Aug. 16.

At least one Richland Two School Board member said she was not made aware of Seidel’s recruiting violations by administration until the day before the story appeared on WIS.

In a statement issued last week after being contacted by WIS, Chief Communications Officer for the District, Libby Roof, reported that the District has since taken “appropriate personnel action with the coach for violations of the District’s position on recruiting.”

The WIS report stated, however, that Ridge View High School officials were not satisfied with how the District handled the matter and, in March, 2019, appealed the District’s actions. While the District reported additional meetings with Ridge View officials and a meeting with the S.C. High School League, no further actions by the District were reported.

Roof stated in an email to The Voice on Monday that, “at this time, the District considers the matter to be closed.”

In a statement released last week, Roof gave a timeline of what the District knew about the reported recruitment violations and when they learned about them.

“In January, 2019, Ridge View’s principal [Brenda Mack-Foxworth] reported possible recruitment of current football players by a Blythewood High football coach and a parent,” the District’s report stated.

WIS reported last week that numerous tweets were exchanged between Seidel and Ridge View players during January, 2019.

As reported by WIS, “In an exchange with Player A, on Jan. 13, Seidel stated, ‘The quicker you guys get here, the more I can do with you in the weight room.’ Seidel added, ‘Let the guys know that.’ ”

The complete list of tweets is posted on the WIS website.

A school district administrator conducted an investigation, according to the District’s statement, met with Seidel “and took appropriate personnel action with the coach for violations of the district’s position on recruiting,” according to the statement released by the District.

The District’s Chief Administrative Services Officer met with Mack-Foxworth and Ridge View’s athletic director to explain that the District had informed the S.C. High School League of the possible recruitment violations, but that “SCHSL informed the district that due to the fact that the students who were contacted did not transfer, no violation with SCHSL occurred,” according to the District statement.

Mack-Foxworth and Ridge View’s athletic director were also informed that the District had taken “appropriate personnel actions” against Seidel in response to the results of their its investigation.

According to reports, however, Ridge View administrators were not satisfied with how Richland Two handled the matter and, in March, 2019, Mack-Foxworth submitted an appeal to the Richland Two Assistant Superintendent for middle schools and high schools to request the collection of evidence against Seidel be submitted to the SCHSL, and to verify that the consequences for the Blythewood High coach “reflect the time and resources spent in investigating” the possible recruitment violation.

In response to Mack-Foxworth’s appeal, district administrators met with the SCHSL on April 12 “and shared the written evidence of the situation.” Again, the SCHSL confirmed that “since the students who were contacted did not transfer, no violation with SCHSL occurred. Any consequences to the coach would be left to the District.”

The District officials will not disclose the specific actions taken against Seidel, saying, “personnel matters are confidential” and cannot be shared with Ridge View administrators.

“Richland School District Two takes recruitment violations seriously and believes that everyone must abide by the spirit of the rule in order to remain fair, consistent and honorable throughout all of our schools’ athletic programs,” according to the District’s statement.

The District Two athletics manual provides the following regarding recruiting: “Recruiting of prospective students for athletic purposes is a serious ethical violation of the philosophy and ideals of interscholastic athletics and will be treated as such. For purposes of this section, recruiting is defined as an attempt by an individual(s) or group associated with a school to entice a student to attend or to transfer to a school for athletic purposes through the exertion of undue influence or any special treatment.”

The District disclosed that, at the beginning of each school year, all coaches in the district must review the district’s Athletic Staff Operations Manual and sign a form stating that they agree to read the manual and adhere to all rules and regulations.

Seidel’s Blythewood Bengals face off against the Ridge View Blazers Friday night in the season opener at 7:30 in the District Two stadium that is located at Blythewood High School but shared by both schools.