A Scottsdale high school football player who was ruled ineligible to play his senior season now has a judge ruling that he can. But Marqui Johnson still won’t be suiting up for Friday night football games yet.
The star senior running back says he left Chaparral High School over the summer and transferred to Saguaro High School for personal reasons unrelated to football. He didn’t know that coach Aaron Weise also left Chaparral this summer and took a position on the Saguaro football staff.
The AIA, Arizona’s governing body over high school sports, ruled that because Marqui followed a coach from one school to another, he violated the prior contact rule. It’s a bylaw meant to prevent recruiting.
As such, the AIA ruled Marqui ineligible for the whole year.
“I didn’t think they would actually be that cold hearted to take my entire senior year away from me,” Marqui said.
His dad, Ron Johnson, took the matter to Maricopa County Superior Court, and Monday a judge determined that banning Marqui from playing could cause irreparable injury to his future educational opportunities. The judge issued a temporary restraining order, saying the AIA cannot ban Marqui from playing.
“He saw where, in this particular case and maybe some other cases we don’t know, where things can get twisted and misconstrued,” Ron Johnson said of the judge.
But then Thursday, the Johnsons got word that the AIA is appealing the ruling. That means even though Marqui is technically allowed to play, coaches still won’t put him in.
“Any game that he does play, pending the outcome of the appeal, is subject to forfeiture,” said Nathan Slater, Scottsdale Unified School District’s athletic director. He added that keeping Marqui off the field for now is to protect the team’s goals and schedule.
Johnson holds no ill will towards the school for not playing him, but feels the AIA is targeting him personally.
“You claim that you want the kids – that you’re all for kids, but once you find out that a kid is able to play and chase his dreams, you’re appealing, which is basically saying, ‘Nope, we don’t want you to play,’” Marqui said.
AIA’s Assistant Executive Director Joe Paddock says this absolutely is not personal towards Marqui. Paddock tells Arizona’s Family this same type of procedure has happened before, and the AIA would do the same thing for any other student at any other school in order to enforce the bylaws.