Bell County head coach Wayne Mills will be suspended for one game after the KHSAA handed down sanctions to the Bell County football team on Wednesday for violation of Bylaw 23 (Limitations of Seasons). The violations occurred from attendance at a preseason football camp the weekend of Aug. 7.
“Where we play that Week 0, we’re only allowed the one scrimmage,” said Mills. “We did one with Harlan and we had one at camp. We self reported ourselves. We were upfront about it. We didn’t try to hide anything.”
Mills said they called KHSAA last week and reported the incident to KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett.
As a result, Mills will be suspended from the team’s game against Wayne County. The football program will be placed on probation through the 2016-17 school year for “failure to exercise institutional control within its program.”
According to a press release from the KHSAA, an institutional fine of $2,500 is assessed to the football program for the violations as well.
The release states KHSAA found that Bell County committed the following violations:
• Scrimmaged an opponent for longer than three hours or scrimmaged multiple opponents;
• Failed to provide the requisite rest following full gear practice;
• Exceeded the time limits for contact contained in the Bylaw;
• Exceeded the daily practice time allowable.
“I made the mistake. It all falls on me,” said Mills. “I’m the head coach, and I’m responsible for the football team. It’s not the kids fault. I’ll take my punishment, and we’ll move on.”
Mills told his players about the suspension Wednesday afternoon.
As for an interim coach for the Wayne County game, Mills said their has been no decision made.
“Our coaches all do a lot of work,” said Mills. “We’re all in this thing together. They’ll pick up and carry everything on that we normally do.”
According to Mills, an interim coach will be chosen and will take care of all the pregame duties. He said the other coaches will handle all the play calling.
Bell County principal Richard Gambrel issued a statement to KHSAA regarding the incident.
“We have a great tradition of success within our football program, but it must be done in compliance with KHSAA rules,” said Gambrel in his statement. “When we were contacted, we quickly confirmed these inexcusable mistakes within our program, and worked closely with the association to determine appropriate remedies, and will work diligently to ensure there are no repeats.”
Taylor County, who is coached by former Bell head coach Dudley Hilton, received similar sanctions by the KHSAA. They received similar punishment as Bell with an additional fine of $300 for videotaping a future opponent at the football camp the weekend of Aug. 7, according to the release.
“These two schools and school systems have been supremely cooperative in our review of what transpired the weekend of August 7,” said Tackett. “It is highly likely that other programs were also participating in that setting, but these two long time members have taken the high road, admitted to the violations and pledged commitment to ensuring that these types of violations are not repeated.”
Reach Anthony Cloud at 606-302-9090 or on Twitter @AnthonyCloudMDN