A special committee of the National Capital Soccer League has dismissed a complaint that a youth team coach violated league rules by recruiting a player for his team.
The decision, announced last week in letters to opposing coaches in Arlington and McLean, ended a six-month controversy over a complaint filed by Dennis Clague, who coaches a youth soccer club in Arlington.
Clague charged that Robert Van Hauser, the McLean coach, had enticed a 10-year-old boy on Clague's team to play for his own soccer club. League rules prohibit coaches from "raiding" rival teams for players.
Van Hauser denied Clague's charge at a March hearing before the league's Rules and Discipline Committee. When the rules panel found that Van Hauser committed no recruiting infraction, Clague appealed to league officers to hold another hearing.
On May 5, league President Tony Dorrzapf, the league's three other officers and two soccer commissioners heard two hours of testimony on Clague's complaint from Arlington coaches and players' parents.
After deliberating in closed session for 30 minutes, the committee voted unanimously to uphold the earlier rules panel decision in favor of Van Hauser.
"No violation of the recruiting rules as set forth in the Rules and Procedures Manual . . . has been established," the special committee said in its letter to the two coaches.
Dorrzapf, who did not participate in the committee's voting, said no appeal is possible under an agreement the two coaches signed before the hearing this month.
In addition, Clague's $100 appeal fee has been turned over to the league's general fund, Dorrzapf said.
Complaints about recruiting are rare in the league, which oversees 5,000 players on 330 teams. But the practice is widespread, coaches, parents and others familiar with the league have said in recent weeks.
Van Hauser said he was satisfied with the committee's decision. "The fact is that I did not recruit," he said. "What other decision would I have expected?"
Clague said the ruling highlighted lingering problems with the league's recruiting rule.
"The NCSL has two choices," he said. "It can either put together a recruiting rule that's enforceable or forget about recruiting altogether and remove any reference to it from the books."
Dorrzapf said the Clague complaint "got blown way out of proportion" because the Arlington coach had mailed some interleague correspondence to area newspapers earlier this year.
"My objection is that the recruiting thing turns people off to soccer," Dorrzapf said. "We hope we don't have the same image as the Little League parent image.
"That's what we're trying to avoid. I don't know how successful we are."