CINCINNATI -- The Ohio High School Athletic Association has concluded its investigation into Massillon Washington High School’s football program and determined several sanctions will be assessed for recruiting violations by former La Salle coach Nate Moore, who is the Tigers' head coach and athletic director.
OHSAA Interim Commissioner Dave Gray made the announcement Saturday morning in a news release.
The investigation involved several student-athletes who the OHSAA said in the release "were recruited to attend Massillon Washington by its head football coach, Nate Moore, along with other Massillon Washington assistant football coaches and boosters."
The OHSAA did not name the student-athletes involved, but the Massillon Independent reported Friday night that former La Salle standout offensive lineman Thayer Munford, a senior, has been ruled ineligible for this season. WCPO.com confirmed that report.
Munford helped the Lancers to back-to-back Division II state titles at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. He was third-team all-state and first-team all-GCL South in 2015. He has several significant scholarship offers including Alabama, Iowa State, Kentucky, Pittsburgh, Louisville and others.
Moore, who led La Salle to the school's first state football title when it won the Division II state championship in 2014, is starting his second season as the Massillon head coach.
Moore declined comment to WCPO.com Saturday morning in a text message before the OHSAA issued the release.
The Massillon Independent first reported Friday night that Munford, who is listed as 6-5 1/2 and 339 pounds by 247Sports, was ruled ineligible this upcoming season.
"We have a ruling," Massillon Schools Superintendent Rik Goodright told The Independent. "Certainly, we're aware of what that is and it doesn't make us happy. We certainly will do whatever we can to clear this up. We'll do whatever it takes to support our program and our coach."
In addition to public reprimand, the penalties include a $5,000 fine, probation for three years and the suspension of Moore from coaching the team during the 2016 postseason playoffs if the team qualifies.
The OHSAA does not release names of student-athletes, but one of the student-athletes has been declared ineligible for the entire 2016-17 school year due to recruiting, while another student-athlete is ineligible for the first half of the 2016 football season due to not meeting an exception to the transfer bylaw.
"The OHSAA and our member schools take the recruiting bylaws very seriously," Gray said. "This is an opportunity for Massillon Washington to learn from its mistakes and take a leadership role as one of Ohio’s most historically successful football programs. If further violations occur while the school is on probation, the school’s membership in the OHSAA is in jeopardy."
Among various violations of the OHSAA’s recruiting bylaws were many instances of violations to Bylaw 4-9-4, No. 8, which reads: "If a coach leaves a school to pursue a coaching opportunity at another school, the coach shall refrain from any communication with any students at his or her former school."
According to the OHSAA release, Moore and others with Washington High School regularly communicated with and visited a student-athlete who was attending Moore’s previous school and provided extra benefits such as travel to summer camps.
The OHSAA said the violations began in the fall of 2015 when Moore took over as the head coach at Massillon Washington. Representatives of the school and football program met with the OHSAA in May to respond to the allegations of recruiting.