AHWATUKEE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Former Mountain Pointe High School football coach Justin Hager is accused of sending emails to opposing teams leading up to games, detailing coverage plans and game strategies. Now students who played under him can't help but think about the "what ifs."
"It's hard to believe that he would do something like that to our program, because we work extremely hard," said Vicente Rivera, a former running back for MPHS.
After a two-week long investigation, Hager resigned from his position at Mountain Pointe and will no longer be allowed to work in the Tempe Union High School District.
The emails came to light after a coach at Faith Lutheran High School in Las Vegas received an email and responded saying they had no interest in cheating. That coach then told the Mountain Pointe High School head coach who then passed it along to the principal.
Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) Executive Director Dave Hines said in the 40 years he’s worked in Arizona athletics, he’s never seen something like this before.
Hines said the next step in the investigation will come from the schools themselves.
“Some of the schools are doing their own computer investigations and seeing if they can track emails, so that's why the process is really in their hands right now, and then they will report back what they found,” he said.
“So there’s no specific AIA rule that says you must report something like this when you receive it?” asked reporter Briana Whitney.
“That's correct. The ethical thing to do is we hope they'd communicate with the other coach and say ‘Hey I don't know what's going on,” he said.
Over three football seasons, Hager sent emails to more than 10 coaches across the valley. The emails included plays, signals, and details on players and their capabilities.
"When I was able to play in the offense, I heard the linebackers--like all the defense would be like, 'it's this play, it's this play' and I would just be there like 'okay, he knows I'm getting the ball.' So, a little weird," Rivera recalled.
Rivera can't help but wonder what championships they should have won, and which of his teammates missed out on scholarships.
"I believe we could've won more championships like at least one or two more. And like [Hager] not only took that away from us but even the scholarship opportunity for other players that were literally going out there like it was a battlefield," said Rivera.
Rivera and his teammates say they feel confused and cheated as they always looked up Hager both on the field and in the classroom.
"I would just say like why would you do that to our program? Just like, all our hard work."
Arizona’s Family asked Hines if they know what the motive was for Hager sending the emails.
"I think that's the million dollar question…we have no idea. It is beyond our comprehension how a coach for a school was trying to give information to opposing coaches from that school, That makes absolutely no sense to us,” he said.
Hines said unless the schools take disciplinary actions this week, the coaches who received the emails will still coach their games this Friday.
He said once schools report back their findings in their own investigations, the AIA will discuss how to move forward at their October board meeting.
Hager has declined to comment to Arizona's Family.