Theonnes out at Chugiak High over eligibility "mistake"
Chugiak High activities principal Kevin Theonnes has been moved and demoted for his role in an eligibility snafu that cost the school’s football team three wins and a spot in the state playoffs.
Anchorage School District Superintendent Carol Comeau said Tuesday that disciplinary action to reassign Theonnes to another school and give him a new job title was taken following Chugiak’s use of an ineligible football player this season, which led to forfeitures of three of the team’s wins.
“We took administrative action to reassign him to a non-administrative role based on what occurred with the football team,” Comeau said.
Comeau said Theonnes is an experienced assistant principal, but that he failed to properly screen for the ineligibility.
Comeau declined to say which school Theonnes was moved to or what position he’ll be taking. She did say it was another high school in the district.
“It’s a personnel matter and we’re still working through that,” Comeau said.
Comeau said “a day or two” after Theonnes informed Chugiak High principal Sam Spinella of the ineligibility of senior kicker Craig Lowe (which occurred on Sept. 21) the activities principal was put on administrative leave.
“He’s really not been (at Chugiak) since the incident occurred,” Comeau said.
Comeau said it was her decision to reassign Theonnes, who along with Chugiak’s activities clerk had the responsibility of handling and processing all of the school’s preseason eligibility paperwork leading up to the start of the fall sports season.
Theonnes’ last official day at Chugiak was Monday, Oct. 10, Spinella said.
Student services assistant principal Colette Marshall, who has worked at Chugiak for seven years, is now serving as acting activities principal, Spinella said. David Little is taking over Marshall’s former responsibilities, he said.
Spinella declined to comment on Theonnes’ departure from Chugiak.
“I can’t answer anything that has to do with personnel issues,” Spinella said.
This was Theonnes’ first year at Chugiak. Before arriving at Chugiak he was an assistant principal at Dimond High.
Because Lowe is homeschooled through the Galena-based IDEA (Interior Distance Education of Alaska) program, he is not eligible to play in the district. But that fact wasn’t discovered during checks of the player’s eligibility because of what Spinella at the time called an “administrative mistake.”
After Lowe’s eligibility status was uncovered, Alaska School Activities Association executive director Gary Matthews ruled Chugiak — then 3-3 overall and 2-3 in the Cook Inlet Conference — must forfeit any games in which the kicker played. Lowe had played in all six up until that point, including conference wins over South and Eagle River.
ASD and Spinella said Lowe’s paperwork wasn’t handled properly during preseason checks, and both used the phrase “administrative mistake” to describe the error.
Spinella later speculated that the mistake could have occurred because Lowe’s first year of high school — during which Lowe attended Chugiak — was listed at the bottom of the player’s transcript, which Spinella said could have led to the unintentional oversight.
Despite an appeal by Spinella on behalf of the football team and support from the district (Comeau and school board president Gretchen Guess attended the appeal hearing personally), ASAA’s board of directors voted without objection on Oct. 3 to uphold Matthews’ decision.
Chugiak won its final two games over West Anchorage and East Anchorage, meaning that a board ruling in favor of Chugiak would have given the team an overall record of 5-3 and a conference record of 4-3 — good enough to make the playoffs and knock West out.
After ASAA’s decision, the board pointed out that, ultimately, it’s up to Region IV — which encompasses the Anchorage School District — to decide which teams move on to the playoffs.
Calling the board’s move “disingenuous,” Comeau, said she herself was bound by Region IV bylaws, which state the teams with the best records must advance to the playoffs. Comeau said this meant that she could not let Chugiak advance over a team with more official wins on its ledger.
Though Comeau remained relatively tight-lipped about Theonnes’ future with the district, his future with the Mustangs is clear.
“He won’t be returning to Chugiak,” she said.
Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or [email protected]