TUCSON, Ariz - More fallout from the Sabino High School Baseball investigation. This time it centers around the baseball club that head coach Mark Chandler helped manage for years.
The owner of Baseball's Next Level tells us he fired Chandler from the club team. This comes less than a week after the Arizona Interscholastic Association stripped the Sabino High School team of the recent 3-A state championship for violating AIA rules.
After TUSD conducted a summer long investigation into claims of illegal recruiting practices, Superintendent Gabriel Trujillo gave Sabino Baseball head coach Mark Chandler two options: "either resign or not return", said Trjuilo.
Our investigation weeks ago revealed Chandler had a history of AIA violations as head coach of the Sahuaro baseball program. And then came another bombshell revelation -- Trujillo announced Chandler once again violated AIA rules as head coach at Sabino. TUSD investigators found misuse of booster club funds and coaches having prior contact with athletes -- a recruiting violation.
"There were allegedly prior contact violations with students that participated in the Baseball Next Level clinic. We have found this violations to be sustained," said Trujillo.
We reached out to the founder of Baseball's Next Level, Brian Huie, a former Major League player, for an interview. He instead sent a statement that he relieved Chandler from his coaching duties.
Baseballs Next Level (BNL) prides itself in providing student athletes with an opportunity to play club baseball at the highest level. Our program consist of developing athletes both on and off the baseball field. Over the past three years of operation, we have won multiple championships and as of today, we have sent over 110 student athletes to play at the next level including college and professional baseball. Our players have been given opportunities to play competitively throughout the United States. Some of our athletes have been given scholarships to play at the Division I, Division II, NAIA, and Junior Colleges throughout the country. Some Universities include but not limited to the New Mexico State, University of New Mexico, University of Utah, Texas Tech, Cornell University, University of Arizona, Grand Canyon University, and UNLV just to name a few. We pride ourselves in helping student athletes achieve their baseball goals.
In regards to the recent AIA Baseball investigations regarding Coach Mark Chandler as Sabino High School baseball coach, we are saddened to hear of the recent AIA violation findings, specifically regarding prior contact. We are aware that the prior contact incident may have occurred while Coach Chandler was employed as a seasonal club baseball coach with BNL. As a separate non-profit baseball organization, we do our best to hire skilled baseball coaches. Additionally, some of our coaches may be current, past, and future high school baseball coaches including but not limited to college coaches and former college/professional baseball players. Since club teams are not governed by Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA), it is the expectation of our organization that our high school baseball coaches uphold & understand the rules and regulations of the AIA as a high school baseball coach. When a coach is hired to our program it is our expectation that our employees coach at the highest level and with the upmost integrity. We do not condone recruiting of any kind.
BNL understands that there may be times where a high school coach may have prior contact with a high school student athlete during a clinic, program affiliations, and/or club team. However, it is our understanding that having contact with high school student athletes is not a violation of the AIA rules. The violation exists when a high school student transfers to another school and does not sit out for an entire calendar year.
Due to the unforeseen circumstances, Coach Mark Chandler is relieved of his duties related to Baseballs Next Level. BNL will continue with both upcoming Fall and Winter seasons. We will continue to serve our student athletes and our community at the highest level.
Our investigation into this sports controversy continues.