Sports News Without Access, Favor, Or Discretion

For No Discernible Reason, Arizona High School Coach Leaked Team Strategies To Opponents

Screenshot: KPNX-TV

A high school football and basketball coach in Arizona resigned Friday after a Tempe Union High School District investigation found that he had shared game strategies, play calls and information about player eligibility with several opposing coaches for at least two years, according to the Ahwatukee Foothills News.

Justin Hager had coached Mountain Pointe High School’s girls basketball team and served as an assistant for the school’s football team since 2016. In that time, he reportedly sent hundreds of emails containing privileged information on the football and boys basketball team to other coaches, all from the terrific email address walterpayton12@yahoo.com.

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Per the emails released by the school, Hager sent PDFs of plays and defensive schemes to at least eight opposing coaches until—perhaps because this seemed remarkably like an episode of the hidden camera show What Would You Do?—the head football coach at Faith Lutheran in Las Vegas finally said something.

“Sir…I don’t believe in cheating,” he responded to walterpayton12 on Aug. 21. “We are not looking to gain an unfair advantage. We will prepare as best we can and look to have a great competitive game.”

When the teams met two days later, Faith Lutheran coach Vernon Fox told Mountain Pointe head football coach Rich Wellbrock about the email, which was traced back to Hager.

In a letter to the Arizona Interscholastic Association, the school’s athletic director said the investigation had not found a motive for Hager’s actions.

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Per the Foothills News, the investigation also did not determine whether the information leaked by Hager had been used against Mountain Pointe; the timeline of emails and games shows Mountain Pointe both winning and losing games after their strategies were released.

The Arizona Republic contacted coaches who received emails from Hager, two of whom responded that they had not used the information:

In response, Shaun Aguano, formerly the head football coach at Chandler and now an assistant coach at Arizona State, said he did receive an email.

“When I got (the) email, I turned it directly over to my AD Mr. (Jim) Culver and was told to delete it immediately, which I did,” Aguano said via text.

Brophy Prep issued a statement saying that one of its coaches had received emails as well.

“Head freshman basketball coach John Burns received two unsolicited emails from ‘Walter Payton’ in February 2018,” the statement read. “Coach Burns dismissed the emails as nothing more than the observations of a fan wanting to coach from the bleachers. He discarded them without replying.”

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Any suggestions as to why Hager might have done this can be sent directly to me at jeromebettis24@aol.com.

h/t Go Cubs

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