The CIF-Southern Section announced Monday that Drake Beasley Jr., a La Cañada High School senior who is one of the top football players in the state, will remain ineligible for what’s left of the season, denying an appeal by his family last month.
CIF — the governing body that oversees high school athletics in California — ruled in September that Beasley’s transfer from Los Angeles Loyola High School was illegal, citing “undue influence” on LCHS’ part. Loyola challenged the transfer, and following an investigation, CIF determined that LCHS coaches had inappropriate contact with the Beasleys before he enrolled at the school.
Spartans football coach Ryan Zerbel denies that. The second-year coach said that when he met Beasley and his mother, Rosa, on campus for the first time this summer, they were there to drop off a younger sibling at youth football practice. During that introduction, Zerbel said he only answered a question about registration and nothing more. Still, CIF considered that grounds for barring Beasley from playing.
The CIF State panel upheld that ruling this week after hearing the appeal Oct. 10. The members of the panel used all 15 business days allotted to announce their decision. CIF spokesman Thom Simmons said the organization would not offer comment other than the decision.
“I tried to come to terms with it over the past couple of weeks,” Rosa Beasley said. “I knew in my heart when we didn’t get the decision right away, I tried to prepare for the worst. … There was still a last ounce of hope.”
That hope was shattered when Beasley picked up her phone late Monday afternoon and logged onto Twitter, seeing Los Angeles Times reporter Eric Sondheimer’s tweet reporting that her son’s appeal was denied. Minutes later, a LCHS administrator emailed her a letter from the governing body informing her of the decision.
Drake Beasley, a running back, garnered a lot of attention after rushing for 1,647 yards and 17 touchdowns for Loyola last season. The all-CIF Pac-5 Division first-teamer was being recruited by UCLA, UC Berkeley, Arizona, Pittsburgh and Boise State, but now his future is uncertain.
According to Rosa Beasley, her son has kept in touch with several college coaches, but that those coaches also were contacted by Loyola football coach Marvin Sanders after the school protested his transfer. Zerbel said he would do everything to help Beasley, but he admitted the situation might affect his recruitment.
As for the appeal, the family can file an injunction in court, but with so little of the season remaining that is unlikely, Rosa Beasley said. La Cañada’s final regular-season game is Friday.
“We can still take them to court, but I don’t know if it’s something we can do,” she said. “It’s something that would be drawn out, and we just don’t have the finances.”
The family’s financial situation was one of the pressing issues mentioned in CIF State’s letter, Rosa Beasley said, adding that the appeal panel asked why they weren’t able to pay the tuition at Loyola.
“I never paid [in the first three years at Loyola] and I’m not going to start now,” she said. “I don’t feel like I should have to justify whether I can afford it. What bothers me is being judged on that. As a parent, that’s a decision we should be allowed to make.”
Rosa Beasley said Loyola’s Sanders told the Beasley family to prepare for the worst when they were informed that Drake’s tuition would not be covered in his senior year. The family later received an e-mail from the school to let them know of a remaining balance.
Beasley and her husband opted to move to La Cañada Flintridge from Glendale, a decision that was also questioned by the panel.
“They basically questioned why we couldn’t go to Hoover High,” Beasley said. “Why is that even a question? If I want my son to go to La Cañada, it’s because it’s a great school. They kept knocking La Cañada’s numbers down and saying Hoover has similar numbers. We shouldn’t have to justify that, but I don’t know if there was much to say to change their minds. They felt we didn’t make the right choices as parents.”
The six-page letter sent to the family also mentioned the family’s connection to La Cañada’s coaching staff. Assistant coaches on the Spartans staff coached Drake Beasley four years ago in Gladiators football, and the family had built relationships with the community in that time.
“It’s never been a secret,” Rosa Beasley said. “We’ve acknowledged we’ve known them. Their opinion was we went to La Cañada because of the coaches. They judged us harshly on those things. Even if we did, I find comfort in knowing parents, coaches and the community there. They found fault on that and judged us about our relationship [with the city].”
The letter, which is similar to the one sent by CIF-Southern Section in September, also cited Rosa Beasley’s interaction with Zerbel in the summer. Beasley said it was a conversation about enrollment that had nothing to do with athletics.
“The spirit of the rule is to prevent recruiting,” she said. “But they’re not following the rules based on the intention of the rule. It’s very clear there was no recruiting involved. They just assume because we have a relationship with a coach and because my son is an athlete, there had to be some athletic motivation.
“These rules are in place to protect schools and coaches. Who is protecting the kids?”
“The only person who loses in this is Drake Beasley Jr.,” Zerbel said. “CIF is a representative of providing opportunities for kids, but they took one from him. He still has good [schools] he can go to, but it definitely closed windows that could have possibly been open.
“But he’s a strong enough person, and I know he’ll move on from this and succeed.”