Jake Garcia’s senior season of high school football may never happen.
Garcia is a California native and has committed to play football at USC. But without California high school football in the fall, Garcia tried to transfer out of state to play one more season. He transferred to Valdosta High School in Georgia. But now the Georgia High School Association has said he’s ineligible to play.
After multiple reports surfaced Tuesday about Garcia’s pending ineligibility, Valdosta coach Rush Propst confirmed that his new QB was ineligible to ABC 27 in Tallahassee. An appeal of the decision is pending.
Why Garcia is ineligible
Garcia’s family was hoping to use a Georgia high school sports rule to their advantage because of the coronavirus pandemic. Students transferring into the state must be part of a “bona fide” family move to be immediately eligible.
So Garcia’s parents obtained a legal separation so that his father could move with him to Georgia. From ESPN:
Moving to Georgia wasn't a problem for Randy, who retired in 2012 after working for 32 years with the Los Angeles Police Department. Yvonne, who works as an administrative assistant, had to remain in California for her job. For Jake to be eligible for one season at Valdosta High, Randy and Yvonne legally separated to meet the Georgia residency rules. According to court records, Randy and Yvonne dissolved their marriage on Aug. 20. They plan to get back together once Jake's season at Valdosta High ends.
"The requirements [are] a full family move, so that and, obviously, grades and that kind of thing," Randy said. "So at this point, we got a legal separation. We're right down the guidelines as far as being eligible to play."
That ESPN story from Sept. 16 was reportedly a major factor in the investigation into Garcia’s eligibility given that his parents explained in the story that they were planning to get back together when Garcia’s high school football career was over. Garcia had initially been ruled eligible to play at Valdosta.
Garcia wants to enroll early at USC
California schools could play high school football over the winter or the spring. But that was too late for Garcia, a player who plans to enroll early at USC. That desire to enroll early led the family to explore moving across the country for a fall football season instead of attempting to wait out the California season.
Garcia has seen playing time so far this season but may not play again if the appeal for his eligibility is unsuccessful.
Part of the reason that the family chose Valdosta High School is because of Propst. He’s been a highly successful — and controversial — coach in the south. Propst’s Hoover High School in Alabama won multiple state titles and he also won two state titles at his previous high school in Georgia. Propst, who was hired at Valdosta in the spring, left Hoover in the 2000s after the revelation that he had a secret family in a different town.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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