Attorney looking into Fayetteville football COVID-19 concerns

News

"It’s unfortunate that we needed to go this way but it's important to get to the bottom of it."

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A big rivalry football game is canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.

Fayetteville High School’s first conference game against Bentonville West on Friday, September 25 has been scratched.

The announcement was made on Twitter.

The game will be deemed a “no contest”.

The cancelation of this game comes after parents told KNWA/FOX 24 the Fayetteville football coach told players to lie about being exposed to COVID-19 so they could play.

Parents have now hired an attorney to investigate these claims.

Our biggest concern is to keep all of our athletes and students throughout the school district safe and out of harms way.

CASEY DICK, HEAD FOOTBALL COACH, FAYETTEVILLE HIGH SCHOOL

Fayetteville High School Head Football Coach Casey Dick said the players health comes first.

Parents told KNWA/FOX 24 that is not the way he has handled a recent coronavirus case.

To hear that there may have been flouting of the rules to preserve eligibility for a 7A athletics program is deeply disturbing, if true.

LUCAS REGNIER, ATTORNEY

Attorney Lucas Regnier is investigating recent claims that Coach Dick told players to lie about a COVID-19 exposure so they could still play.

“We have credible information right now that a number of Fayetteville High School football players attended a party where there were COVID-19 positive individuals present and the coach advised students to keep quiet about it in order to preserve their eligibility to play football,” Regnier said. “That’s troubling if true, we hope it’s not.”

KNWA/FOX 24 obtained these messages between Coach Dick’s players.

On Tuesday, Coach Dick addressed the complaints for the first time.

“At no point in time was I ever untruthful with a student, or community member, or anybody in our school district, or our program,” he said.

KNWA/FOX 24 reached out to Coach Dick and the district again after speaking with Regnier.

Until we see that document, we have no new comments other than our statement from last Friday:

We understand there has been concern regarding COVID-19 exposure and one of our team sports.

When district administrators became aware of the allegations, the issue was investigated, and no information was discovered to substantiate the allegations. Any time there is concern regarding student exposure to COVID-19, the district follows strict protocols outlined by the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) and the Arkansas Activities Association.  We continually evaluate the practices and protocols of our athletic staff members, and we have identified no instance where protocols were not followed as related to our football team members.  

The FPS Director of Health Services and COVID-19 Point of Contact (POC) exchanges information daily with ADH. When confirmation of a positive case or probable exposure of a student or staff member is received, we act quickly to follow the protocols and take the necessary steps to protect the health of our students and staff. This includes sending a student or staff member home to quarantine.

After interviewing student-athletes regarding recent activities and events, several football players have been identified as COVID-19 possible close contacts and are in quarantine.

ALAN WILBOURN, FAYETTEVILLE PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Regnier sent a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the district to get more information.

“We have to preserve accountability,” he said. “We have to preserve the safety of our students first and foremost.”

KNWA/FOX 24 also sent an FOIA to the district.

In it, text messages showed that a player did test positive last Tuesday and that the doctor told him he could return back to school this Thursday before the game.

“It’s unfortunate that we needed to go this way, but it’s important to get to the bottom of it,” Regnier said.

At this point the facts are still being developed and we don’t want to cast any kind of negative light that may be undeserved. 

LUCAS REGNIER, ATTORNEY

Regnier said if it turns out that Coach Dick did ask players to lie about COVID-19 exposure, it’ll be up to the district on what actions need to be taken.

“To resort to a Freedom of Information Act request is an extreme remedy but these are extreme times,” he said. “We hope to get to the bottom of this to determine what exactly happened, and who said what to who and when.”

Stay with us as we continue to follow this story.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Latest Video

Local News Video

FOX24 Video

DON'T MISS

More Don't Miss

Trending Stories

get the app

News App

Weather App

Mega Millions & Powerball Numbers