Tifton Gazette

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January 23, 2013

Swearingen says Tift inquiry ongoing

TIFTON — The inquiry of possible recruiting by the Tift County High varsity boys basketball program is still ongoing, Georgia High School Association Executive Director Dr. Ralph Swearingen told The Gazette Wednesday.

A complaint filed by the Turner County School System is what started the probe. One of the players in question is a varsity athlete, while the other is in middle school.

Swearingen sent an investigator to Tift and Turner counties to look into the allegations.

“I am expecting a response from the investigator today or tomorrow,” Swearingen said Wednesday. “We are still working on the process.”

Swearingen will study that report and if he believes there are possible rules violations, he would give Tift County a chance to address the allegations.

The matter has been in the back of the minds of Tift County fans, especially with the success the team is having this season. After a 60-54 loss to the seventh-ranked team in the nation, St. Anthony (N.J.) Monday, the Tift County Blue Devils are currently 14-4 on the year.

“I know people are interested in this, especially with the success the Tift team is having this year. But, we do not rush these matters,” said Swearingen.

Tift County Superintendent Patrick Atwater said Wednesday that every player that has been on the Blue Devil roster this year has been eligible, according to the GHSA itself.

“We have got GHSA Certificates of Eligibility for every player on the roster,” said Atwater.

He reiterated what he has said earlier in the matter, which has been ongoing since October 2012.

“From what our coaches and athletic director (Rusty Smith) have told me I feel none of the Turner County concerns will be validated,” said Atwater.

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