Yoncalla should be counting its blessings after the Oregon School Activities Association found the school guilty of “undue influence.”
An OSAA report summary states that head boys basketball coach Bid Van Loon “delivered transfer paperwork to a student that attends a neighboring school. He also drove a non-YHS student to an open gym in the spring.”
Undue influence has been in the OSAA handbook for many decades, and it is clear from the allegations that Van Loon violated the rule.
The handbook states, “If selected individuals are offered free transportation, invited to attend practice or games, or offered or awarded any privileges or considerations not offered to other students, whether athletes or non-athletes, those offers or awards would be examples of undue influence.”
It’s also made clear that the undue influence rule is effective at all times, even when students are attending middle school or when there are breaks in the school year.
The coach resigned following these recruiting allegations but will not have to pay any of the $2,500 fine OSAA levied against the school. He will however be suspended for the first eight games he coaches as any OSAA member school prior to the 2020-21 season.
The $2,500 is the OSAA maximum fine, but that is because the association is hoping that it ensures that member schools “prioritize academics over competition, protect young students from exploitation, ensure an even playing field among competing schools, provide equitable competition in sport and activities, and protect the physical welfare of student engaging in contact sports,” according to the OSAA handbook.
Yoncalla School District had already been struggling financially and, although Superintendent Brian Berry says the school has money set aside in the athletic budget to deal with the fine, it’s a tough burden for the school.
School officials pointed out that the student in question lived within the borders of the Yoncalla School District, but the fact remains that the student was, at the time of the incident, a student at North Douglas High School.
Even if the student wanted to attend Yoncalla in the future or attend open gyms in the community, it is clear that the coach should not have been the one to assist in this. Other community members could have been contacted to give this teenager a ride.
At the very least, it was a careless error by Van Loon to offer the boy a ride to an open gym, but when he went to the rival school — and these schools are bitter rivals — to deliver the young man’s transfer paperwork, he crossed the line.
For that, he has been punished. And Yoncalla should count itself lucky that the coach has resigned, that none of the games he coached was forfeited and that future teams won’t face repercussions over the actions of one coach.