Georgia High School Association fines and bans Valdosta from 2021 high school football postseason

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America’s all-time winningest high school football team is in hot water with the state’s governing body, the Georgia High School Association.

The GHSA has fined the Valdosta High School football program $7,500 and banned the program from the 2021 Georgia high school playoffs for rules violations relating to recruiting and a lack of administrative control. In addition, the school will be on probation for the upcoming season and be forced to forfeit seven 2020 wins in which ineligible players were used.

Valdosta’s problems began last fall when California-transfer Jake Garcia was ruled ineligible after moving to Georgia once California decided not to play high school football until the spring, because of the coronavirus pandemic. Ultimately, Garcia was allowed to transfer to Grayson where he led the Rams to Georgia 7A state championship and a No. 4 ranking in the High School Football America 100 national rankings powered by BlackMP Living Water.

According to a letter from the GHSA to Valdosta City Schools Superintendent Dr. William Cason, “it is clear that Valdosta High School Coach Rush Propst and other Valdosta High School boosters recruited and used undue influence in connection with the transfers.”

In addition to Garcia, the GHSA letter names Amari Jones, Ty’Li Lewis, Tajh Sanders and Jamad Willis. Garcia is already enrolled at the University of Miami (Florida), but Jones, Lewis, Sanders and Willis are seniors-to-be who will not be allowed to play for the Wildcats in the fall.

The letter goes on to state, “In addition, the evidence is clear that this is not an isolated instance and that Coach Probst and members of the Valdosta Touchdown Club have on other occasions contacted other student athletes or their families and provided gifts of money, payment of utilities and housing incentives in an attempt to persuade those student athletes to transfer to Valdosta High School.”

To say the offseason has been a mess for the Valdosta would be an understatement.

Related: Propst talks about hiring at Valdosta

The controversial Propst has been on administrative leave since March when a secretly-recorded conversation with former booster club member Michael “Nub” Nelson was made public. During the conversation Propst, who was hired by Valdosta last spring, told Nelson he needed “funny money” to help pay for living expenses for players and their families who moved into the district.

On Tuesday, AL.com spoke with Propst about the current situation. Below is his statement:

“We are letting the process play out right now. We are appealing everything. Hopefully, the truth will come out.”

Rush Propst, Valdosta head coach via AL.com

Propst owns seven high school football state titles, five of them at Hoover in Alabama and two at Colquitt County in Georgia. His 2015 Colquitt County team was named High School Football America’s “mythical” national champs. He was fired after from CC amid controversy between the 2018 and 2019 season.

Related: Colquitt County HSFA “mythical” national champs

In 2007, he left Hoover under a cloud of issues after winning five state titles. He became nationally-known when he was the central figure in the MTV show Two-A-Days that chronicled his 2005 and 2006 teams.

Last year, Valdosta finished 7-5, losing in the Class 6A state semifinals. The Wildcats were forced to forfeit their season-opening win over Warner Robins due to using Garcia. With the forfeits, Valdosta heads into the 2021 season with 929 all-time wins, which is the most in America.

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About the Author

Jeff Fisher
Jeff is an award-winning journalist and expert in the field of high school sports, underscored with his appearance on CNBC in 2010 to talk about the big business of high school football in America. Jeff turned to his passion for high school football into an entrepreneurial venture called High School Football America, a digital media company focused on producing original high school sports content for radio, television and the internet. Jeff is co-founder and editor-in-chief of High School Football America, which is a media partner with USA TODAY High School Sports.