Jamie Warren claims his football coach at Scottsdale Community College ran a drill in which he was speared in the back during practice. The ugly incident has unleashed a flood of allegations in Artichoke land.

Stahl's explanation doesn't comport with accounts by SCC players -- several of whom say the football team has lockers full of videotapes and that coaches rarely erase practice tapes because they use them as teaching aides.

In addition, Stahl's assertion that the team has only four practice videotapes is not supported by expense records. The football team's line-item budget obtained by New Times shows the team spent $600 in August 1999 for a "blanket order for video tapes." Purchased in bulk, this amounted to more than 270 tapes. This expense is in addition to $1,600 the team paid a local vendor to videotape last season's football games as required by the Western States Football League, the conference to which SCC belongs.

Sources tell New Times that Stahl repeatedly demanded that the football coaching staff turn over the videotape and that they refused before finally telling her more than a week after the incident that the tape had been erased.

Athletic director Art Becker refuses to discuss the spearing incident.
Paolo Vescia
Athletic director Art Becker refuses to discuss the spearing incident.

"She tried to get the tape from them, but they wouldn't give it to her," Warren says. "She asked for the tape on a Friday . . . and they finally returned her call five days later and said, 'We don't have the tape.'"

Warren says SCC coaches initiated contact with him in Dallas two years ago and encouraged him to come to SCC.

"One of the coaches, the old offensive coordinator, called me up and was talking to me for a while, and then Coach Giovando called me up a couple of times and basically told me to come on out," Warren says.

The Arizona Community College Athletic Association forbids the recruitment of out-of-state players. In-state players can receive small tuition waivers, but the ACCAA forbids scholarships and the recruiting of out-of-state players.

"It is against the rules, and it is very clearly stated that it is against the rules," says Phoenix College athletic director Scott Geddis.

Several other out-of-state SCC football players tell New Times they were also actively recruited by Giovando and members of his staff.

"I was told there were dormitories," says a disgruntled player who has since quit the team.

Instead of dorms, SCC places out-of-state players in apartments near the campus. Since many of the players are poor, the football program encourages them to enroll in federally funded work-study programs. Federal grants are matched with college funds to finance the work-study program.

Stahl says the athletic department oversees the work-study program for football players. The jobs are nebulous, at best.

"We just go sign our names on the sheet of paper on the coach's door and we would get paid," says one player.

Several other players say they were paid up to $200 a week for doing no more than a couple hours of work a week cleaning up the weight room, football fields and other odd chores around the athletic department.

"Some days you might have to stay after practice and clean up the whole locker room; that might take an hour," says Warren, who received money under the work-study program last year.

Asked whether the football program was submitting fraudulent work-study claims to fund de facto scholarships for out-of-state-players, Stahl replied: "Well, I can see that's what you're saying. I don't know if it is necessarily true."

Stahl noted that "the time cards are signed."

She promised to provide work-study records requested by New Times under the state public records law, but so far has failed to produce any documents.

At the same time many players are struggling for money, Giovando and Rodgers have an unusual practice of requiring players to purchase athletic clothing directly from the coaching staff if the players want to travel with the team for out-of-town games.

Included in this assortment of clothes are practice shorts, shirts, a sweat shirt and a blue knit polo shirt, current and former players say. The prices charged to the students range from as low as $16 to more than $100, depending on the amount and type of products, Stahl says.

Stahl says she has reviewed some of the accounting records and says none of the products that were being sold by the coaches -- including gear bearing an unauthorized "Superman" logo -- had been purchased by the athletic department.

"We are not buying those shirts, those shorts and that polo shirt as the college," she says. "They are not coming through as purchases."

However, football team expense reports state that the team purchased "sets of practice shirts, shorts and sweat shirts" from Buddy's All Stars in 1998 for $570.

SCC also paid a company called Tough Team Sports Camps $329 for tee shirts in 1999. In addition to the purchase of the shirts, the college also paid Tough Team Sports Camps $25 for "screen and art work" and $46.32 for "EXLARGE T-SHIRT PRINT FRONT AND BACK," according to the line-item budget report.

While it is uncertain whether the 1998 and 1999 purchases by the college include the athletic gear sold to players by coaches, Stahl says the college is stopping the practice.

"We don't think that's what you really should be doing when you are coaching," she says. "So we are going to have that run through an account here at the college."

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