The Georgia High School Association is now investigating Valdosta High School Quarterback Jake Garcia's eligibility.
Garcia came to Valdosta a month ago from California and started in the team's September 4th season opener. The senior, who has committed to USC, made the cross-country move after California decided to not play high school football this fall.
Garcia moved to Georgia with his father Randy, while his mother Yvonne remains in California. Yvonne and Randy legally dissolved their marriage in August prior to the move, in order to meet GHSA eligibility requirements. They told ESPN's Mark Schlabach that they plan to reunite after the conclusion of their son's season.
However, GHSA bylaws require that the student-athlete move simultaneously with the ENTIRE parental unit in order to have immediate eligibility. Presumably the Garcia's and Valdosta knew the rules and believe they have met the eligibility test and thus Garcia started week 1 for the Wildcats.
However, someone clearly questioned the eligibility and the GHSA's investigation appears based upon the "entire parental unit" part of the equation.
Jake did not play this past Friday in the Wildcats second game of the season. Valdosta head coach Rush Propst said that is related to a leg injury rather than the eligibility question.
Propst said Garcia's health will determine if he plays this upcoming Friday night. However, the team is at risk of forfeiting games that they have already won this season if he is deemed ineligible. The school and GHSA declined to make a comment when asked by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Jake Garcia's move is not an isolated case as other athletes across the country have made similar adjustments because of states with limited opportunities due to COVID, but his case may be one of the only with 2,500 miles, a D1 commit and a divorce decree.
As for Propst, his Valdosta team is ranked No. 1 in Class 6A. The Wildcats' game at Colquitt marks the return of Propst to the program where he won two state titles before the school forced him out after the 2018 season. Propst downplayed that angle to the AJC saying, “I just try to focus on the game and try not to worry about the things I can’t control. Is it a special game? I’m not going to deny that. I’d be lying. I’ve got a lot of good memories over there, but when all is said and done, it’s not about Rush Propst, but about the Wildcats and Packers.”
As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.
Tuesday Sept 29th update>