UPDATE | Mooney under investigation by OHSAA; coach resigns amid probe

YOUNGSTOWN — The Ohio High School Athletic Association is investigating a situation in which two eighth-graders from Struthers Middle School were hosted at a dinner by a coach from Cardinal Mooney High School about their possible enrollment to Mooney.

“The school has taken action to accept the resignation of the coach in question,” according to a statement from Tim Stried, OHSAA director of information service. “One of the students involved has been accepted to attend Cardinal Mooney High School, while it has been alleged that the other student continues to receive text messages from another coach at Mooney."

Nick Wolsonovich, superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Youngstown, confirmed that a coach has resigned amid an Ohio High School Athletic Association investigation of Cardinal Mooney High School.

Wolsonovich declined to identify the coach. He and Stried indicated the Mooney football program was the focus of the investigation.

Some punitive actions have already been taken place, Stried said.

"The Commissioner’s Office has ruled that the two students will be ineligible for interscholastic athletics for one year from their date of enrollment should they choose to enroll in and attend Cardinal Mooney as freshmen in 2013-14," Stried said in a statement. "Penalties against the school have not been applied, pending completion of this investigation.”

The investigation, which is being conducted between the school and OHSAA, began months ago, Wolsonovich said.

“One of the things we want to emphasize is that we are a member of the OHSAA and we are committed to following their rules and regulations and try to collaborate and cooperate with the OHSAA on every single incident,” he added.

Randy Rair, the assistant superintendent for the Catholic diocese of Youngstown, said an internal investigation "found no evidence" that one of the Struthers middle schoolers continues to receive text messages from a Mooney coach.

"We investigated that thoroughly," he said. "We found no evidence of anything improper."

Rair said the other coach, who is no longer with the program, did host a dinner for the family of the other Struthers middle schooler, who had already contacted Mooney about enrolling at the school.

"That other coach acted on his own and did make a mistake," Rair said. "Our school is a member of the OHSAA and we want to follow the rules. As soon as we were notified, it was self-reported. We wanted to make sure everything was done above board.

"This was one man [making a mistake], not something systematic."

Struthers Superintendent Joseph Nohra said his school was notified of the violation by Cardinal Mooney and the Diocese, not by the OHSAA.

"We didn't go looking for this," Nohra said. "We didn't go running to the OHSAA. From our viewpoint, we felt it was a situation we should turn over to our sister school [Mooney] and work with them closely on the issue.

"We have a lot of compassion for our students and our families and this is an unfortunate situation."

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