Chandler High School principal Larry Rother said Tuesday that the school’s former head football coach Shaun Aguano notified him when he received an anonymous email tipping him off about opponent Mountain Pointe’s game plan.
And while Aguano never responded, school officials did not tell Mountain Pointe or Tempe Union High School District because they didn’t think the email was credible.
Rother discussed the email on Tuesday, the day after Tempe Union disclosed that Justin Hager had resigned as Mountain Pointe’s assistant football and girls head basketball coach after scores of similar emails to opposing teams’ coaches had been traced to him.
Rother said Aguano, now the running backs coach at Arizona State, had approached him and Chandler athletic director Jim Culver with the email, from an account labeled “firstname.lastname@example.org”
“Coach Aguano came down to our office and said, ‘hey, I just want to let you know I got this anonymous email from someone claiming to have inside information about Mountain Pointe,’” Rother said. “We asked him if he thought it was credible and he said ‘no.’
“We decided we would just move on, delete the email, not respond and go on and plan the game like we normally would.”
According to a Sept. 13 letter from Tempe Union athletic director Bruce Kipper to Arizona Interscholastic Association Executive Director David Hines, the email included Mountain Pointe’s game strategy and Chandler’s defensive alignment.
The anonymous email claimed its author was a former assistant for “many years” under Norris Vaughan, who coached the Pride from 2009-17.
According to the email, Hager wrote that he had not yet been removed from the team’s Hudl account, which is used for game planning and film. He also told Aguano to “please give them a beat down,” referring to Mountain Pointe.
The email was sent to Aguano on Nov. 5, 2018, four days before a Rich Wellbrock-led Mountain Pointe team faced the Wolves in the 6A Conference quarterfinals. Chandler beat Mountain Pointe 49-21 on Nov. 9, 2018. The Wolves went on to capture their third straight state championship on Dec. 1.
Rother said that neither Aguano nor any members of his staff would have used any information emailed to them about another team’s game strategy.
“In our community, if you ask people who they think are upstanding and ethical coaches, coach Aguano would be at the top of that list,” Rother said. “High school coaches get that sort of anonymous email often enough that it isn’t a strange thing when they get one.
“Because it was such a strange email and address, we dismissed it as if it was garbage. We wouldn’t have game planned off something like that.”
Rother referred to the situation involving Mountain Pointe’s athletics department, students and the entire community as heartbreaking.
“I can’t imagine how the coaches, students and parents over at Mountain Pointe must feel knowing what this coach did,” Rother said. “Those are the things that hurt kids.
“But I certainly hope it doesn’t detract from their hard work, their effort and their success on the field because of the actions of one adult who betrayed his own school.”