Preston Jones emails

Perry High School Principal wrote in a letter to the AIA Wednesday that football coach Preston Jones and basketball coach Sam Duane did not use information sent to them from an anonymous email linked to a former Mountain Pointe coach.

Perry High School Principal Dan Serrano and Athletic Director Jennifer Burks told the Arizona Interscholastic Association Wednesday that football coach Preston Jones did not use information sent to him from an anonymous email regarding Mountain Pointe’s game plan.

A copy of the letter he sent to the AIA was obtained by The East Valley Tribune on Thursday. In it, Serrano and Burks wrote that he and the rest of the Perry administration had conducted a thorough investigation, interviewing Jones and current and former assistant coaches of the football program.

The two explained that the email, sent by former Mountain Pointe girls basketball and football assistant coach Justin Hager using an alias, was sent to Jones on Nov. 14, 2017.

According to an investigation by the Tempe Union High School District, the email contained game strategy Mountain Pointe had planned to use against Perry in the 6A quarterfinals, when Norris Vaughan was the head coach.

Jones initially responded to the email, asking “why would they do what they did against Chandler?” Serrano wrote in the letter to the AIA that it was a “flippant” response and Jones was not trying to “get more information from the sender.”

Jones was sent two more emails on Nov. 16-17, one of which contained pdf images of Mountain Pointe defensive formations. Jones did not respond to those emails.

According to Serrano and Burks, Jones “did not make anyone, including assistant coaches of players, aware that he had received these emails. Coach Jones did not use any of the information in these emails.” Perry beat Mountain Pointe 56-31.

Perry administration also revealed in his letter that Perry head basketball coach Sam Duane also received an email from WalterPayton12 before the Pumas’ 6A playoff win over Mountain Pointe on Feb. 19, 2019. No emails to Duane were included in Tempe Union’s investigation.

According to Serrano and Burks, the email was informing Duane of a Mountain Pointe player that would not play against Perry.

“Coach Duane did not reply to the email, nor did he use the information in his game planning strategy. He deleted the email right away,” Serrano and Burks wrote. “Furthermore, the information that was sent regarding the Mountain Pointe player was incorrect, as that player competed early in the 1st quarter and throughout the rest of the game.”

Hager’s resignation was denied Friday by Tempe Union officials, as the district governing board asked to move forward with termination.

In the letter Tempe Union Athletic Director Bruce Kipper sent to AIA Executive Director David Hines on Friday, emails recovered from the WalterPayton12 account showed messages containing game strategy had been sent to several Arizona high school coaches, including Jones.

Kipper went on to write that district employees had witnessed hundreds of emails sent to coaches, but they were unable to be recovered as the email account had been deleted.

There was no evidence indicating any coaches that received the anonymous emails used the information.

“Both coaches take pride in their own integrity,” Serrano and Burks wrote. “Their scouting ability, their skill in the use of legally obtained film, and the amount of pre-planning that goes into competitions would not be swayed by unreliable sources.

“Any competitions with Perry High School have never been won due to unsolicited, anonymous or non-credible emails. Instead, they were won solely due to the talent of our student athletes and preparation by our coaching staff.”

Have an interesting story? Contact Zach Alvira at zalvira@timespublications.com and follow him on Twitter @ZachAlvira.

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