The news late last week that Loyola High School will challenge the transfer of standout running back Drake Beasley to La Canada has been met with surprise and disappointment by the Spartans coaching staff and the school’s athletic department.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Loyola will protest Beasley’s transfer, thus threatening his eligibility for his senior season, on grounds of undue influence by La Canada. Loyola is a Division 1 program with a storied history and plays in the powerful Mission League. La Canada is in Division 12.
La Canada head coach Ryan Zerbel declined Monday to talk about any specifics related to Beasley, but expressed his bewilderment about the charge that he or someone on his staff unduly influenced the transfer.
“Right now, it’s in the best interest of the kid to let the CIF policies play out,” Zerbel said. “That’s what they’re there for and we’ll let it play out. It’s horrible that all of this stuff is said. It’s not like we’re landing kids all the time or we’re a factory over here.”
Beasley made a name for himself locally during his youth football days with the La Canada Gladiators. He went to Loyola for the first three years of his career and earlier this month left for La Canada due to undisclosed reasons.
Beasley is considered to be one of the top running backs in the state, having rushed for 1,647 yards and 17 touchdowns last season. He currently had 12 college offers, including UCLA, Boise St., Arizona and Cal.
If eligible, Beasley shoots La Canada from Rio Hondo League afterthought to one of the favorites. And there’s no telling what the Spartans could do in the second-to-lowest playoff division should they make the Southern Section postseason.
According to CIF Southern Section director of communications Thom Simmons, Loyola had not submitted any paperwork regarding the case of late Monday morning. Once Loyola files its case against La Canada and Beasley, La Canada will have a chance to conduct its own investigation and respond.
In all likelihood, the Southern Section will have to make a decision on whether there was a violation. And that decision needs to be solid enough to hold up in court if matters go that far. The range of penalties if undue influence can vary due to the severity of the infraction.
“Whatever we decide, we have to be able to defend in court,” Simmons said speaking broadly about undue influence decisions. “We have to be able to prove reasonably in a court of law that there has been evidence of wrongdoing.”
Simmons gave no timeline on how long it would take before a decision was made, but did say that undue influence cases can often take one to two months to resolve. Obviously, that would put Beasley in serious jeopardy of missing a good portion of the season. Or, La Canada could play him and risk forfeiting
“We try to clear them up as soon as possible, because when you’re talking about a student’s athlete’s eligibility, the last thing you want to do is hurt the kid if there’s no wrongdoing,” Simmons said.
Beasley will continue to practice with the team throughout the challenge prcoess. The Spartans open the season on Aug. 26 at Hawthorne.