COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Ohio High School Athletic Association announced Thursday afternoon that Walnut Hills High School will be placed on a two-year probation because of recruiting violations within its football program.
The OHSAA also fined the high school $1,500 for a failure to obtain Pupil Activity Permits/Coaching Permits for six high school coaches.
The OHSAA had an ongoing investigation in April and submitted evidence of recruiting activities involving head football coach Brian Lainhart to school administrators.
On April 19, Walnut Hills dismissed Lainhart, a 2005 Colerain graduate who coached one season with the Eagles. By doing so, the sanctions are less severe. Lainhart declined comment to WCPO.com April 19.
“Recruiting violations are something about which the OHSAA and our member schools are very concerned, but we are even more concerned that the school has been allowing individuals to coach who haven’t been certified,” OHSAA Commissioner Dan Ross said. “We trust that Walnut Hills will now take these issues very seriously, too, and will immediately implement a corrective plan.”
The OHSAA found that a number of coaches were allowed to coach without obtaining the necessary permit required by the Ohio Department of Education and the state’s governing body for high school athletics.
Sanctions for Walnut Hills include probation through June 2019, the fine, public reprimand and an audit of all permits for Walnut Hills coaches. If it is discovered that a Walnut Hills coach does not have the required permit after Aug. 1, the coach will be suspended, the school will be fined and the case submitted to the Ohio Auditor of State.
The Ohio Auditor and the Ohio Department of Education could also pursue their own sanctions against the school regarding the permits.
Pupil Activity Program/Coaching Permits are issued by the Ohio Department of Education and includes CPR training, concussion education and completion of a fundamentals of coaching course.
Lainhart and another coach had been listed as “permanent denial” by the Ohio Department of Education, according to the OHSAA.
The OHSAA does not issue the Pupil Activity Program/Coaching Permit, but requires all coaches -- paid and volunteer -- to obtain a permit from the Ohio Department of Education.
The fine is based on $250 for each of the six high school coaches at Walnut Hills who coached during the 2016-17 school year without a permit. In addition, four Walnut Hills Junior High coaches also did not have the required permit, although the junior high school is not an OHSAA member.
Cincinnati Public Schools and the Walnut Hills High School administration said they accept the findings and penalties from the OHSAA.
“We deeply regret these serious violations and are disappointed that they happened,” said Joshua Hardin, Cincinnati Public Schools athletics manager. “While extremely unfortunate, we have determined that the lack of valid Pupil Activity Permits/Coaching Permits was limited to a few coaching positions out of a total of more than 100 coaching positions at Walnut Hills High School.”
Hardin said the lack of appropriate permits apparently eluded the district’s normal verification process.
“We are advising all our school staffs moving forward that any coaching position must have a valid permit, verified by the district and the Human Resources Department,” Hardin said.
Walnut Hills named Brian Miller as interim head football coach April 21. The school is conducting second-round interview with five candidates next week and hopes to name a new coach by May 20. Miller is not a candidate for the head coaching position.