Damien Mobley, the Waxahachie High School head boys basketball coach, resigned Monday after he said allegations of University Interscholastic League (UIL) violations surfaced and a complaint was lodged by WISD last Friday.
The focal point of WISD's complaint, reported to both Mark Cousins, the UIL compliance director, and Susan Elva, the UIL athletic director, surrounds monetary funds given to a player for a lunch during a December film study session at George W. Solis Gymnasium, payment for players to take specific actions on the court and holding practices outside of UIL mandated guidelines, Mobley said.
Yet, Jenny Bridges, WISD’s director of public relations, stated via email “Mobley resigned for personal reasons.” His resignation letter was submitted Monday.
“That's not something we can comment on," said Jenny Bridges, the WISD director of public relations, about whether an investigation had been done by WISD, referring to The Waxahachie Daily Light to UIL media relations. "If there is an issue with one of our athletic departments, we take that to the UIL."
Bridges confirmed later on Thursday a report was made to the UIL on May 13, but said, “I cannot say,” when she was asked what the possible UIL violations were. By law, WISD can’t comment on personnel matters. The UIL spokesperson Kate Hector said she couldn’t comment on the report, and said to find out what was in the report, the Daily Light would have to file an open records request. Submitted to the UIL on Thursday afternoon, the Daily Light was still currently waiting on a response from that request. By law, the UIL has 10 business days to respond.
Mobley said he thinks the allegations may have started when he was joking with players in November after the team returned from a tournament, adding the team was on a two-game winning streak.
"I said, 'I bet I couldn't pay you a dollar to take a charge and play help defense,'" Mobley said about possibly being accused of paying players to take charges during district games. "The comment was meant to point out their lack of defense. I don't really know how it got out or became a big deal and the only people in the room were myself, the players and Joe Wakeland."
Wakeland, the assistant coach to the varsity boys team, died earlier this year.
This is not the first time Mobley has been part of an athletic department that’s faced scrutiny. Dallas Independent School District forfeited the 2013 and 2014 UIL boys basketball state championships won by Dallas Madison High School, the team he coached until 2013. He left before allegations and investigations began, but ultimately, based “on an internal investigation, Dallas ISD determined Dallas Madison High School played an ineligible player for the entire 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 basketball seasons, including the boys basketball state tournaments,” according to a press release by the UIL in August 2014. It’s unclear what role Mobley had in the investigation, but he hasn’t faced any kind of discipline related to the incident.
Hector said there was no record of Mobley receiving any UIL punishment within the past two years.
Mobley, who was hired in 2014 after leading Madison High School to 3A state titles in 2009 and 2013, replaced Steve Weeks after a 3-25 overall record in 2013. During the 2011-12 and 2012-2013 seasons, Weeks led the Runnin' Indians to a 7-52 overall and 4-24 district records.
In the three seasons Mobley coached the Runnin' Indians, the team had a 37-48 overall record — including winning 20 of 32 games in 2015 and finishing their district schedule 10-7. Mobley, the 2009 Prairie View Interscholastic League Coach of the Year signed his renewal contract with WISD just two weeks ago, before the allegations materialized, he said. Mobley was also named Coach of the Year and Newcomer of the Year by The Dallas Morning News in 2013.
Fast forward a month and a half after November and Mobley and his team were in film study again, this time praising the improvement of the Runnin Indians' defense and a five-game win streak.
"I told them that's what happens when you play good help defense," he said. "[A student] made the comment 'I've taken like eight charges. That means you owe me like eight bucks, right?’ We laughed about it and I was proud they got the point of the comment. [Another student] asked me if there was any food in the office, to which I said no and that he could leave film study to go to McDonald's and get some food.
"He told me he didn't have any money, so I gave him the money in my pocket — $3 and some change. What was I going to do? Let him go hungry?"
Because these are only allegations at this point, the Daily Light has chosen not to state the names of players Mobley mentioned because they are possibly minors.
Meals, snacks or snack foods during or after practices fall under the list of additional valuable considerations that school teams and athletes may accept, if approved by the school, according to the UIL athletic amateur rule, found in section 441 of the UIL Constitution and Contest Rules.
Mobley also said when he asked Greg Reed, the WISD athletic director; Jeremy Glenn, the WISD Superintendent; and Lee Auvenshine, the Deputy Superintendent of Human Resources and Legal Services, if they investigated to see if they had established a pattern of behavior of paying players, Reed, Glenn and Auvenshine said they'd only asked a couple of players. Mobley noted the almost six-month gap of action between the incident and when Reed said the allegations crossed his desk last Tuesday.
“We do not promote the practice of coaches purchasing meals for students out of their own pockets. All varsity athletes are fed before or after each game,” Bridges said about the district’s policy about coaches feeding athletes.
Hector, the UIL media coordinator, said though the WISD complaints were filed, Mobley has incurred no penalties with the state executive committee or been called to any meetings yet, noting the self report filed last Friday.
WISD has scheduled Mobley's last official day on June 3, after classes conclude this summer. No interim coach has been selected at this time, and Mobley’s position will be publically posted for 10 days before WISD begins the hiring process of a new coach, according to law, Bridges said.
“We thank Coach Mobley for his service to the students of WISD, and wish him the best of luck,” stated Glenn in an email from Bridges.
Marcus is the sports editor for both the Waxahachie Daily light and Midlothian Mirror. Follow him on Twitter at @MarcusMarionWNI. Contact the sports desk at 469-517-1456 and on Twitter by using #WDLsports and #MirrorSportsNB in tweets!