YONCALLA — Allegations of recruiting at Yoncalla High School have led to the resignation of the head boys basketball coach and one of the stiffest fines ever levied against an Oregon high school.
According to an Oregon School Activities Association executive board report, the school was guilty of “undue influence” in relation to a student attending another nearby school.
The report summary alleges that head boys basketball coach Bid Van Loon delivered transfer paperwork to a North Douglas High School student-athlete in the spring of this year. The summary also alleges that Van Loon drove a non-Yoncalla student to an open gym. Recruiting in high school is an OSAA violation.
Van Loon subsequently resigned after the allegations.
“I do not (want to comment about the allegations),” said Van Loon, who coached both the boys and girls teams at YHS in 2016-17. He guided the Eagles to Skyline League boys basketball championships and state playoff appearances in both 2015 and 2016. “I’m undetermined on (coaching elsewhere) right now.”
“He’s put years into this school, this community and this program,” Yoncalla Principal and Superintendent Brian Berry said. “I would totally support Bid in any venture he’s doing outside of Yoncalla High School. I do think he’s a really good coach and knows what he’s doing.”
Nonetheless, Berry said the school has taken steps to prevent a similar situation from arising again.
“We understand that we made mistakes and I think they’re fixed,” said Berry, who represented YHS at the executive board meeting. “We’ve done our best to fix the things that we know have happened, to be proactive that they don’t happen again.”
The OSAA began looking into the allegations after an anonymous complaint was filed May 23.
“We were contacted by the OSAA in late May and that’s when we started the investigation,” Berry said. “I know what the OSAA told me. It was from a student who lived in our district and was going to another school and he wanted to come back to this school.”
The OSAA levied a $2,500 fine against Yoncalla on Monday and required a school representative to attend the executive board meeting. The school faces a potential postseason ban should Van Loon return as a coach prior to the 2020-21 season.
“It’s one of our heaviest fines,” said OSAA Executive Director Peter Weber. “I think it’s based, not on the magnitude of the violation, but on the rule that was violated, the undue influence. It doesn’t get violated very often, but when it is the executive board feels that it is serious. I think you see that in what they doled out in the violation.”
Berry said the district has money set aside in the athletic budget to deal with the fine.
“The OSAA was very fair and understanding to the plights of small schools and the things that we have to do,” Berry said. “They were able to lighten the penalties ... the fine was the same, but the penalties against the kids is what it came down to. They’re a kid organization and they put students first. Initially there have been some other penalties that I don’t want to go into.”
Van Loon will also have to serve an eight-game suspension if he takes a coaching job at any other OSAA school before the penalty phase expires.
Yoncalla is advertising for a coach, with a season salary range of $2,432 to $3,161. Van Loon had already stepped away from coaching the girls program.
Yoncalla football coach Matt Bragg, whose daughter is a freshman for the Eagles, has been hired to coach the girls team. Bragg had been an assistant coach under Van Loon in recent years. Bragg’s son, Jared, is a senior for the boys team.
“We have a few people who have applied,” Berry said. “Our new athletic director is learning the job on the fly and doesn’t want to look into basketball until we’re through the first week of October, so to get through homecoming. We have some (applicants) who are very qualified.”
The athlete at the center of the violations lives in Yoncalla. He attended North Douglas High in Drain as a freshman and is currently enrolled at Oakland High School.