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A teacher and coach at Mountain Pointe High School is being accused of sharing "protected information" about the school's varsity football and boys basketball team with opposing team coaches, according to the Tempe Union High School District.
Justin Hager, who served as both the girls' basketball coach and varsity football assistant coach, resigned in lieu of termination on Monday.
According to the district, there is evidence that dates back to 2017 showing Hager shared information about formations, game plans, signals and player eligibility with opposing coaches. Hager sent the head coaches at Pinnacle, Highland, Perry, Chandler and others, this information through an anonymous email, the district said.
The district obtained emails allegedly sent from Hager to other high school coaches since 2017 and sent them to the Arizona Interscholastic Association.
Under an email "WalterPayton12@yahoo.com" Hager communicated with opposing coach of at least 10 different teams. You can read those emails below.
In the emails obtained by the district and sent to the AIA, it shows only two coaches responded to "WalterPayton12."
The emails show that "WalterPayton12" first emailed Perry football head coach in November 2017 before the state semifinal game between Mountain Pointe and Perry. The anonymous email sent Jones game plays and PDF images of plays.
Jones responds, "why do you think they will do what they did against Chandler?"
Perry won that game 56-31.
"WalterPayton12" emailed Brophy boys basketball coach John Burns and Pinnacle boys basketball coach Charlie Wilde in February of 2018. Mountain Pointe beat Brophy but lost to Pinnacle in the state championship game 76-60.
The emails resume again in Aug. 2018 when "WalterPayton12" sends game information to Pinnacle football coach Dana Zupke and Pinnacle beats Mountain Pointe 56-34.
In Sept. 2018, emails go out to Bingham (Utah) football's head coach and Highland football head coach Brock Farrel. Mountain Pointe beat Highland but lost to Bingham.
In October 2018, emails go to Desert Ridge football coach Jeremy Hathcock regarding plays and ineligible player information. Mountain Pointe beat Desert Ridge 28-20.
In Nov. 2018, "WalterPayton12" emails Chandler football coaches Shaun Aguano and Steve Vaugh plays and strategy. Chandler defeated Mountain Pointe 49-21.
The emails resume in August of 2019 when "WalterPayton12" sends plays and strategy to Faith Lutheran (Las Vegas) and once again to Pinnacle football's Dana Zupke.
The Faith Lutheran head coach responded to the email saying "I don't believe in cheating." Mountain Pointe won that game 40-17.
Pinnacle beat Mountain Pointe 40-0.
Perry football coach Preston Jones, before the state semifinal in Nov. 2017, and Faith Lutheran head coach Vernon Fox, who said he wasn't interested, were the only coaches to respond, according to emails obtained and released by the district.
Mountain Pointe coaches and school administration were not informed by opposing coaches about what was going on until the game Faith Lutheran.
“It took a Christian coach from Vegas to say something," David Hinojosa, a Mountain Pointe parent and football team sponsor, said.
While tearing down other Mountain Pointe teams, Hager pumped himself up. In a WalterPayton12 email to a local media outlet, he wrote, "Many think recognition of the Mountain Pointe girls basketball team should be shown ... [Coach Hager] is as humble as ever and would never want any recognition ... We hope we can keep him!"
Hinojosa said he did a lot of filming on the sidelines and he would hear the players coming back saying, "They know our plays they know our formations."
The school said their staff is devastated to see the kids being hurt in this way, and Hinojosa and others are just trying to figure out why it happened.
"We’re kind of dumbfounded, what did you gain from this?" Hinojosa said. What did you make out of this? Money? Did you get fame? Did you get anything out of this? What notoriety did you get? Because I know what our kids got. They got nothing. They got cheated.”
The school said it has sent all of the information on Hager over to the Arizona Interscholastic Association. The AIA will be the one to decide whether or not other coaches and teams will be punished for possibly using the information they were sent.