By a narrow vote of 4-3, a divided District 7-5A Executive Board ruled that Southlake Carroll quarterback Daxx Garman is not eligible to play for the Dragons, perennial challengers for the Texas Class 5A state title. The new ruling, which follows an investigative report into the senior's eligibility by Dallas-Fort Worth television station WFAA, overturns two prior rulings before the 2009-10 school year from District 6-5A, Southlake's home district.Scott Adams, a lawyer representing the Garman family, said he planned to appeal the ruling, which could end the high school career of the Arizona-committed quarterback.
"We think it was the wrong decision," Adams said. "They didn't move here for athletic purposes. Daxx is a good kid. He's the one who is hurt."
If Garman's appeal is rejected he could transfer to a private school. Private schools are governed by a body outside UIL, which is in charge of sports for Texas public high schools. RivalsHigh senior analyst Dallas Jackson has learned that three private schools in particular could be players for the ineligible passer: Episcopal School in Dallas, Covenant Christian in Colleyville (which is just down the road from Carroll) and, in what could be a fascinating move, IMG Academy in Florida (though a move to IMG appears to be more of a long shot).
At the moment, no one knows why the committee ruled Garman ineligible, but the Dallas Morning News' Matt Wixon makes a compelling point that they had little choice but to rule him ineligible after the original WFAA report. Once that investigation showed that Garman's father was still living on the family's ranch in Oklahoma, rather than within the bounds of the Carroll school district with the rest of the family, it became clear that he transferred to the school not because of an entire family relocation, but to pursue another athletic opportunity. To UIL, transferring for athletic reasons is illegal, which meant that Garman couldn't be eligible to play.
Additionally, sources indicated to Jackson that the members of the District 7-5A board may have voted along competitive lines -- in other words, those who represented schools which would have a shot at beating Southlake Carroll without Garman voted to make him ineligible, while those from schools whose football team would probably lose to Southlake Carroll regardless of quarterback voted for his eligibility. If that proves true, it would cast even more derision on what is becoming a long-running, dramatic saga for one of high school football's most powerful and consistent programs.
Regardless of what happens next, the decision couldn't have come at a worse time for Southlake Carroll, which is currently travelling across the state to take on Copperas Cove, a dangerous Central Texas team, in its season opener Friday night. Now, after planning to start Garman at quarterback since the end of spring practices, the Dragons will turn to the more untested Roman Namdar, a fellow senior without a career start at quarterback.
Whether Garman wins his appeal to stay at Southlake, moves to Episcopal, Covenant Christian or even to yet another state, he'll always have the backdrop of one very dramatic Friday before his career even kicked off outside Oklahoma.