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Past, present haunt Dave Bliss at Las Vegas charter school

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The NIAA determined Wednesday that it wasn’t able to welcome Dave Bliss.

The Nevada Interscholastic Actions Affiliation was scheduled to think about the American Preparatory Academy’s request for two-year probationary standing as a option to be granted full membership. That movement was tabled indefinitely due to considerations concerning the faculty and the basketball program led by Bliss, the controversial former main school coach and the topic of the Showtime documentary “Disgraced.”

Rollins Stallworth, Washoe County government athletic director and NIAA board vice chairman, stated the NIAA needed to “get some extra info and collect extra knowledge concerning the faculty.”

The movement can solely be introduced again for consideration by an NIAA board member.

Bliss resigned his place as basketball coach at Southwestern Christian College in Oklahoma Metropolis in 2017 upon the discharge of “Disgraced,” which included his disparaging remarks made in 2003 about murdered Baylor College participant Patrick Dennehy.

The movie performed recordings of Bliss fabricating a story that Dennehy was a drug supplier as a strategy to conceal that Bliss secretly paid for the participant’s tuition whereas teaching at Baylor as a result of he was out of scholarships. Bliss, now 75, finally acquired 10 years of NCAA probation within the wake of the Baylor scandal and hasn’t coached on the major-college degree once more.

And but a number of months after directors at APA seen the movie, the Okay-12 constitution faculty in Clark County employed Bliss — making it the second faculty in Southern Nevada to rent him prior to now 18 months. He had served as basketball coach and athletic director at Calvary Chapel for one yr.

“That individual within the documentary was 15 to 18 years in the past,” APA secondary director Nik Hulet stated in January of the choice to call Bliss athletic director and basketball coach final summer time. “All of us change. We’re going to be a faculty that talks about character and progress and second possibilities.”

‘I feel I may help’

The NIAA oversees Nevada’s highschool actions, and solely member packages can compete for state championships.

“Our gamers have objectives of making an attempt to be in school,” Bliss stated final month, “and I feel I might help them just a little bit based mostly on my expertise.”

Bliss has prevented speaking in depth about his time at Baylor. He stated there will probably be a time and place to debate it.

However mother and father and directors have been doing loads of speaking within the months previous to Wednesday’s assembly, brazenly questioning whether or not Bliss performs by the principles. APA was pressured to forfeit two basketball video games on the center faculty degree this season for utilizing a highschool participant and one other participant with out eligibility.

“There isn’t any approach we would like American Prep anyplace close to our league with the stuff happening over there,” stated Invoice Darrow, athletic director at Needles Excessive Faculty and president of the Class 2A Southern League of excessive faculties — the NIAA’s fourth-largest degree by enrollment — previous to the assembly. “I query the integrity with Bliss on the helm. It’s alarming to me and the league. You might have youngsters coming out and in of nowhere. … We will’t compete with that at our degree. We’ll battle this, 100 %.”

In an interview with the Assessment-Journal earlier this yr, Bliss stated his highschool program is clear.

“I don’t know what’s forward of us,” Bliss stated. “The factor I actually respect about APA is its teachers and character improvement. For an older coach, all I’m making an attempt to do is give them an athletic program it doesn’t matter what the game is, the place we will hold our athletes the place they’re as a result of we’ve obtained a terrific factor going.”

Conflicting messages

Bliss’ predecessor, Darrell Larsen, was employed by APA in June 2017 as athletic director. He had gained state championships as a coach in basketball and monitor at Pine View Excessive Faculty in St. George, Utah, the place he labored for 20 years.

“At first, the message at APA was to construct (athletics) the appropriate means with no matter youngsters occurred to be on the faculty, so we began a basketball group,” Larsen stated. “However that message ultimately modified. (Hulet) stated he needed to compete with the Findlay Preps and Bishop Gormans in basketball. They knew the sort of individual Dave Bliss was, however obtained annoyed that youngsters have been leaving after the eighth grade for top faculties with extra established sports activities packages.”

Larsen stated he was knowledgeable by APA by way of e mail that his contract wouldn’t be renewed after the 2017-18 faculty yr.

Rachelle Hulet, APA’s district administrative director and Nik Hulet’s sister-in-law, stated the varsity was not created to be an athletic-focused powerhouse.

“I opened this faculty largely for my 5 youngsters to have a greater (instructional) choice,” she stated. “I additionally see the good thing about youngsters enjoying sports activities and people classes which might be discovered via it. However on the finish of the day, if there’s a selection between the 2, that is going to be about our educational program.”

Even so, the varsity had a necessity that Bliss crammed.

inline-regDave Bliss coaches his staff American Preparatory as they play Findlay Prep in Henderson, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Assessment-Journal)

“Dave Bliss introduced us an organized plan on methods to run an athletics program, and we would have liked an organized plan,” she stated.

APA’s varsity completed 19-7 this season and gained the Nevada Constitution Faculty Sports activities Affiliation championship. Among the many staff’s prime gamers was former Cheyenne Excessive standout KeShawn Corridor, who didn’t arrive at APA till mid-January. He initially had tried to switch to a different faculty, however when he discovered he wouldn’t be capable of be a part of the basketball workforce there, he opted to hitch Bliss’ group.

“(Bliss) has been nothing however nice for my son,” stated Willie Corridor, KeShawn’s father.

There’s additionally the curious case of APA’s greatest participant, 6-foot-Eight-inch Darren Jones.

Jones, a senior, has dedicated to play soccer on the College of Utah. He departed Cajon Excessive Faculty in San Bernardino, California, after the primary semester of his senior yr. His time in California, in accordance with the Inland Valley Day by day Bulletin, took him to 3 totally different excessive faculties earlier than he arrived at APA.

In line with the Rancho Cucamonga newspaper, Bliss claimed that Jones was being home-schooled in Las Vegas.

Nevertheless, when requested in January by the Evaluate-Journal if Jones was enrolled on the faculty, Nik and Rachelle Hulet stated that he was.

However, Jones was a no-show the week APA gained its constitution faculty title. Bliss informed the Evaluate-Journal by way of textual content that “(Jones) enrolled and tried it for a month, after which his soccer individuals satisfied him they might assist him extra, so he withdrew. However he was legit when he was right here.”

Jones, who performed in 9 video games for APA, didn’t reply to a request for remark by way of his social media web page.

Center faculty violations

What was not official: APA used ineligible gamers in two center faculty video games.

On each events, Bliss despatched emails acknowledging his mistake.

In a single case, an APA highschool freshman who performed Class 4A varsity soccer performed within the recreation towards Okay-Eight constitution faculty Pinecrest St. Rose. The boy has since left APA.

In his e mail to Pinecrest, Bliss stated: “A number of of our gamers have been concerned in one other faculty exercise, and we waited so long as we might for the gamers to reach. When they didn’t present up, the coach then inserted one other participant in order to have the ability to play the sport.”

Nevertheless, a video of the sport taken by a Pinecrest father or mother and obtained by the Evaluate-Journal confirmed that APA had uniformed gamers on its bench. A letter from a Pinecrest father or mother in regards to the incident, despatched to chose constitution principals and board members overseeing league sports activities, said that Bliss was requested concerning the participant in query earlier than the sport and responded: “He’s in eighth grade.” Moments later, the letter said, Bliss informed the mother or father that the boy performed soccer.

In his e-mail after the sport towards Pinecrest, Bliss wrote: “We’ll make each try and notify all our coaches relating to this difficulty in order that this doesn’t occur once more.”

Three days later, it did.

APA’s center faculty staff performed Doral Academy-Cactus. On the ground for APA was one of many prime youth gamers within the valley. A supply who spoke with the Assessment-Journal on the situation that they not be recognized confirmed that the participant was not enrolled at APA and already had performed six semesters at a Clark County Faculty District center faculty, making him ineligible for the sport.

In an e mail relating to the Doral forfeit, Bliss stated: “We have now no excuse, and the league is already conscious of the incident. As well as, the coach who dedicated the violation has been eliminated.” APA declined to determine the coach however confirmed that he was suspended and never fired. The Assessment-Journal’s makes an attempt to determine and attain the coach for remark have been unsuccessful.

“Do I need to win each recreation we play? Completely,” Nik Hulet stated. “Do I would like individuals considering we’re right here doing one thing nefarious? Completely not. I don’t need individuals considering we’re standing up right here speaking about character and morality and on the similar time back-dooring youngsters into faculty.”

For Eric Bauman, whose son performs on the Pinecrest staff, the state of affairs is as shameful because the conduct revealed in “Disgraced.”

“How he’s allowed to be in command of an athletic program at any degree after what occurred (at Baylor) is unimaginable,” he stated.

Reporter Bartt Davis contributed to this story. Contact columnist Ed Graney at egraney@reviewjournal.com. Comply with @edgraney on Twitter. Contact reporter Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Comply with @BySamGordon on Twitter. Contact reporter Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Comply with @adamhillLVRJ on Twitter.