Officers of the National Capital Soccer League last week convened an unprecedented hearing into allegations that a McLean coach illegally recruited a 10-year-old player from a rival Arlington team.
The committee, which includes the league's four elected officers and two appointed commissioners, is scheduled to issue its findings in the case against Robert Van Hauser of McLean later this week. Panel members refused to discuss their findings until Van Hauser and Dennis Clague, the Arlington coach, are notified of the decision.
The hearing Thursday in a Marshall High School history classroom marked the first time that a committee of league officers heard a recruiting complaint and it was one of the few times that such a complaint has been made public, officials and parents said.
"Recruiting happens all over the league, but it's so subtle, so hard to prove, that you never see this kind of hearing," said one parent during a break in the two-hour proceedings.
The hearing came after Clague and other Arlington officers asked NCSL officers to overturn a ruling by the league's Rules and Discipline Committee.
Arlington representatives had charged in March that Van Hauser had enticed a young Vietnamese player away from the Arlington team to be a member of the McLean club. Van Hauser denied the charge at that rules committee hearing, saying the boy's parents had wanted the youngster playing for McLean.
After the rules panel rejected Clague's complaint, the Arlington coach appealed to league directors for another hearing.
"Arlington wants to put this behind us," said Clague, who paid $100 for the appeal hearing. "But we did want to make this point, that we'd like to see practice of recruiting ended once and for all."
Arlington coaches have complained for several years that their teams are particuarly vulnerable to raiding by rival coaches because the county allows only Arlington residents to play on its youth soccer teams. Neighboring jurisdictions have no such prohibition.
Arlington officials said last week that Van Hauser had entered the Vietnamese player in a Georgetown Prep tourney in February in violation of league rules. At the time, the player was still on the Arlington roster and ineligible to play for McLean, the officials said.
Van Hauser replied that because the tournament was not sanctioned by the league, the boy was eligible to play for his team. The coach insisted that he would not have played the boy in a sanctioned tournament.
Neither the boy nor his father testified at the hearing last week.
NCSL President Tony Dorrzapf said the league will consider several proposals to tighten the recruiting rule at its June meeting.
The special committee has at least four options in the Van Hauser case, according to league officials. It can ban the use of the player for a length of time; suspend Van Hauser from his coaching post; place the coach on probation; or uphold the Rules and Discipline Committee's ruling in Van Hauser's favor.