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Mission Viejo Football Team Is Penalized

Diablo head coach and assistant suspended for four practices. Sanction is second in two months.

July 23, 2003|Paul McLeod | Times Staff Writer

The Southern Section has imposed penalties on the Mission Viejo High football team for the second time in two months, this time for violating its association rule.

Commissioner Jim Staunton ruled that Coach Bob Johnson and his son, assistant Brett Johnson, should be suspended from four practices each for coaching at spring football camps at Stanford and USC. Several Mission Viejo players attended the camps, said section spokesman Thom Simmons.

"This gives Mission Viejo an extra opportunity to conduct and hold organized practices with its football team," Simmons said. "This gives it an unfair advantage."

Of 10 geographic governing bodies that constitute the California Interscholastic Federation, only the Southern Section maintains an association rule. The ordinance prohibits coaches from having contact with players outside of the season. Three weeks of spring football practice without pads are allowed, but those workouts must be on campus.

Bob Johnson said that he has worked the college camps for nine to 10 years and said that as many as 20 coaches from other schools have participated.

"The association rule was put into place for basketball and volleyball," he said. "To deal with the club situation, to keep people from coaching their kids and from having their whole team and coaching it year-round. This [decision] is going outside the rule, in my opinion."

Mission Viejo Principal Marilyn McDowell said the Johnsons have been unfairly singled out for being successful.

"[The section's] only focus was on Bob and Brett, only on Mission Viejo," she said. "These camps have been operating in just the same way for quite a few years without any penalties given to any coaches that have taken part. Now, all of a sudden, for all of this to happen, it doesn't sit very well with me."

Johnson refused to provide names of coaches who have participated at the camps and Simmons said his office had no evidence to support Johnson's claim.

On May 28, the Southern Section found two-time Division II champion Mission Viejo in violation of its sportsmanship policy for painting a Spalding logo on a Wilson football for the 2002 championship game. The committee ordered all gate receipts from the 2002 playoffs withheld until the Diablo coaching staff completes a two-day ethics seminar. It also banned Mission Viejo from playing host to any playoff games in 2003.

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