The fallout over Montgomery Bell Academy’s alleged violations of high school athletic rules continues, as The City Paper has learned that school officials have turned over a report detailing an internal investigation to the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association for review.
According to multiple sources familiar with the investigation who were granted anonymity, the report addresses instances of financial aid given to MBA student-athletes. The money came from individuals or groups outside the purview of MBA’s official financial aid program. Some estimates are that the report contains 21 or 22 “issues” for the TSSAA to review, and those include specific individuals — both donors and recipients.
Reached Thursday afternoon, an MBA official declined to comment. TSSAA officials have not returned requests for comment.
The turmoil surrounding MBA and the TSSAA erupted on April 15, when the school announced it had fired head football coach Daniel McGugin, who’d led the team since 2007.
In April, after McGugin had been fired, the TSSAA announced it had learned that the coach had delivered a cashier’s check to the father of a football player in 2008. According to reports, the father of the student-athlete said MBA headmaster Brad Gioia and his administration had no knowledge of the gift.
In the wake of McGugin’s firing, MBA organized a committee to investigate the athletics program.
While details of the report have not been made public, The City Paper has learned through multiple sources that the incident leading to McGugin’s termination was not unprecedented. Parents of other MBA students have regularly assisted with tuition of students — not all athletes — in what one source described as either “need-based” or through guardianship.
Families of student-athletes who obtained such financial aid played on both the varsity football and basketball teams. But according to sources, the students were not rewarded for athleticism; rather, money was given to assist families in need.
Sources have also stated that such assistance — to both students and student-athletes — has been common knowledge to members of MBA’s board and is a practice among area private schools that goes back decades.