Montclair Prep’s Hazelton Expresses Confidence in Case, Appeal Panel
John Hazelton, trying to regain his job at Montclair Prep as an assistant football coach, enters today’s hearing at the Southern Section office as confident of his case as he is relieved that Southern Section Commissioner Stan Thomas will not rule on it.
A three-member panel consisting of high school principals Frank Cano of Alhambra High, Ray Monti (Quartz Hill) and Tom Triggs (La Habra) will hear Hazelton’s appeal today at the section office in Cerritos. Hazelton, who faces a one-year suspension for recruiting violations, earned a postponement July 12, arguing that Thomas had failed to provide specific charges despite repeated requests by Hazelton through his attorney, Daniel Grigsby.
Thomas supplied the charges last week, outlining claims that Hazelton broke the section’s undue-influence rule for his involvement with Derek Sparks, a former Montclair Prep running back who has accepted a scholarship to play football at Washington State in the fall.
According to the charges, Hazelton used undue influence in recruiting Sparks to Montclair Prep from Banning High and in securing housing for Sparks while he attended Montclair Prep. In addition, the section has questioned Hazelton’s role in a foster-care arrangement involving Sparks and Steve and Susie Goldbaum, a Granada Hills couple whose son was a teammate of Sparks’ at Montclair Prep.
Hazelton expressed confidence in his case, saying he is prepared to present numerous witnesses on his behalf. A fair hearing is assured, Hazelton said, because those witnesses will testify before the panel and not Thomas.
“Stan Thomas is a scary figure,” he said. “He has placed himself in the position of prosecutor. He has a cop mentality. As the prosecutor, he only sought out facts that fit his case. I feel good about this panel.”
Thomas declined to discuss the case.
Hazelton, who said he probably will seek legal redress if the panel rules against him, claims he is innocent of wrongdoing, characterizing any violations of the undue-influence rule as minor. He freely admits that if a player asked him for small change to buy a soft drink, he gladly gave the money.
“But am I innocent of undue influence? Yes,” he said. “I understand the spirit and intent of the rule and I’ve never violated the spirit of the rule.”
Principal V.E. Simpson, who will attend today’s hearing, informed Hazelton by letter June 21 that he was suspended as part of an agreement reached in April between the school and the section. The day before the school faced a hearing on charges of recruiting violations, grade tampering as well as nonpayment of tuition by football players, Simpson struck a deal with the section that precluded the hearing.
In the agreement, Montclair Prep admitted to recruiting violations, and its athletic department was placed on three years’ probation. The school also was banned from postseason play for the 1991-92 school year in all sports and in football for three years but can appeal after two years.
Additionally, the agreement included the recommendation that the school suspend Hazelton for recruiting violations.