Prep Football: One of Jordan transfers will be in court Tuesday

Prep Football • Senior seeking temporary restraining order against UHSAA.
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At least one of the Jordan football transfers from California who is suing the Utah High School Activities Association for athletic eligibility will be in court next week.

Clifford Betson, a receiver who came to Jordan from Salesian High in Richmond, Calif., has a hearing at 2 p.m. Tuesday for a temporary restraining order against the UHSAA. If the order goes through, Betson would be eligible to play for the No. 1-ranked Beetdigger football team for up to 10 days or until a preliminary injunction is filed.

Both Betson and fellow senior Dynamite-Jones Fa'agata were denied eligibility at a UHSAA hearing Tuesday. They had filed hardship waivers after moving from the Bay Area to live with their uncle Stuart Tua. They testified that they were trying to escape violence in their communities. Tangikina Tua, Stuart's wife, is the legal guardian for both boys.

Laura Lui, the attorney for both players, said that she hoped to show the UHSAA had not followed its own rules in the proceedings.

"We felt everyone involved besides the panel thought my clients' situation rose to the level of a hardship," Lui said. "They can't change the rules for different students. What we want is for these students to not be treated any differently than anyone else."

One of the issues that arose during the UHSAA hearing was that signatures of the principals from the original schools, as well as at least one parent signature, had been forged. It never was explicitly stated who faked the signatures, but Stuart Tua invoked the Fifth Amendment when asked directly if he had forged them.

Lui argued that her clients had been punished unfairly for the actions of others.

"In the [UHSAA Handbook] section that deals with dishonesty, it says if anyone is dishonest with the association, such person can be punished," she said. "There's nothing in the rule that allows for punitive measures against you just because you're related to someone who was dishonest. There's no evidence that the students themselves did anything wrong."

UHSAA legal counsel Mark Van Wagoner said he had received notice of Betson's hearing, and that the UHSAA would try to consolidate the two cases into one.

Fa'agata's case had yet to be scheduled as of Friday afternoon.

Twitter: @kylegoon