SALT LAKE CITY — As was chronicled in the Deseret News last November, the Orem High football team wanted to make a statement in the Class 4A championship game.
"I’d say, right now, we’re the best team in the state, no matter classification," Orem quarterback Cooper Legas told sports writer Amy Donaldson after his team's convincing 60-13 win over Dixie. "People have talked all year long about how we aren’t that good because (we’re) only 4A, but that’s where we have to play, so all we can do is destroy teams to show how good we really are."
Two months later, the Utah High School Activities Association made a different kind of statement about what the Tigers did that day.
On Wednesday, the UHSAA Executive Committee, which oversees the state's 22 regions, voted to sanction the Tigers' football program for violations of National Federation of State High School Associations rules.
Orem High will be fined $500 for "a lack of institutional compliance" and its head football coach Jeremy Hill will be suspended for the first two games of the 2019 season, the Executive Committee decided.
The Executive Committee voted to punish the Tigers because they "knowingly violated" the NFHS rule (1-5-10) to wear dark-colored jerseys as the home team and allegedly "misrepresented communications with UHSAA officials regarding interpretations of the NFHS rules," according to a press release from the activities association.
Orem wore all-white uniforms — with blue and gold trim — during the 4A title tilt. Dixie wore blue pants and jerseys with white stripes and blue helmets.14 comments on this story
"After considering testimony and evidence from the proceedings, the Executive Committee decided Dixie wasn’t liable for the decision to wear dark uniforms for the game, due to misrepresentations of communication with UHSAA officials," UHSAA spokesperson Jonathon Oglesby told the Deseret News.
Hill is appealing the decision and will have another hearing in March. The football coach told the Deseret News he has no comment on the Executive Committee's decision to sanction him and the program.
Orem High has won back-to-back 4A championships with Hill at the helm. The Tigers, who are 29-11 since Hill took over in 2016, won their final 10 games by an average of 44.9 points.