Brian Vaughan and Willie Bailey, T.C. Williams High School's top two basketball players and the central figures in a Virginia High School League investigation into allegations of recruiting, said yesterday they were encouraged by some members of the Mount Vernon basketball staff to transfer last summer.
Vaughan and Bailey, who will be seniors at T.C. Williams in September, said they have been approached numerous times--including while they were attending Hammond Junior High in Alexandria--and asked to consider the advantages of attending Mount Vernon. The coach at Hammond, Mike Evans, worked last year in a coaching practicum at Mount Vernon; the unpaid practicum was conducted by George Mason University, Evans said, and involved his working with Coach Don McCool at Mount Vernon.
Bailey said Kevin Gibson, a graduate of Williams now working as a systems programmer and a volunteer statistician for Mount Vernon's basketball team, told him he'd "get a starting position and a college scholarship if I left T.C. (Williams) to play for Mount Vernon.
"He (Gibson) asked me several times if I had considered moving into the Mount Vernon area," Bailey said. "I told him no. I've been looking forward to playing basketball for T.C. since junior high. I didn't want to go to Mount Vernon. Last summer, I was on the playground and Gibson asked me again had I thought about moving."
"Bailey is lying," Gibson said last night. "He actually approached me last summer to inquire about how he could go to Mount Vernon. He used to call me on a daily basis and I have witnesses to prove it."
"He (Gibson) said I came to Mount Vernon and asked him about coming over," said Bailey. "That's not true."
Vaughan said Evans talked to him several times about transferring to Mount Vernon.
"He (Evans) asked me was there any way I could move into the (Mount Vernon) area," Vaughan said. "I told him I had an aunt that lived in the area but my mother wasn't going for that.
"At the time, I didn't know Evans worked with the Mount Vernon coach (McCool). When we played Mount Vernon, he was on their bench. He coached Willie, me and some of the other T.C. players when we were at Hammond and knew everything about us."
During the past 10 years, there have been repeated rumors of recruiting at the high school level in Northern Virginia. The VHSL rule on recruiting states: "No member school or group of individuals representing the school shall subject a student from another school to undue influence by encouraging him to transfer from one school to another for league activities." The VHSL handbook interprets the rule to extend to "any person or group connected with the school or not connected with a school."
The Alexandria and Fairfax County school systems began an investigation into allegations of recruiting at Mount Vernon during the past school year. A fact-finding committee formed by Robert Peebles, the superintendent of the Alexandria School System, and Linton Deck, the superintendent of Fairfax County, agreed there was enough evidence to continue the investigation. The matter was then forwarded to the VHSL, the governing body for the state's athletic program.
The VHSL assigned another three-member committee, which met May 12 and heard testimony. The committee set another meeting for Monday at Hermitage High in Richmond.
At the meeting, Williams Principal Robert Hanley told the committee that McCool, Assistant Coach Charles Scudder, Evans and Gibson contacted students in the Alexandria school system and attempted to persuade them to move and attend Mount Vernon, located in Fairfax County. Hanley named 10 students, four of them from the Alexandria school system, as having been recruited in the past three years by Mount Vernon.
McCool and Scudder say they have been advised by their attorneys and principals to decline comment.
Evans said he preferred not to talk about the situation until after the VHSL has rendered a decision. "All I can say right now is that I will go to Richmond Monday and answer all the questions they ask me," Evans said. "That's it."
"I guess I have to carry the weight for everyone," said Thomas Hyer, the Mount Vernon principal. "This is a complex situation. I know the fact finding committee didn't produce any facts. They came up with the same allegations and denials, rumors that have circulated around Northern Virginia. If I thought we were guilty of anything, we wouldn't be going to Richmond to settle this thing."