The Georgia High School Association is investigating the eligibility of a star football player on Grayson’s state-championship football team.
Kurt Taylor, a running back who has signed with Michigan, transferred to Grayson for his senior season last fall and then returned to Newton High School without his family ever relinquishing residence at his home in Newton County, according to a report by Fox 5 Atlanta.
GHSA spokesperson Steve Figueroa acknowledged that the TV report and subsequent feedback from it to the GHSA are what sparked the investigation. Figueroa said the GHSA could not comment further while the case is active.
Taylor was among five blue-chip senior prospects who transferred to Grayson for the 2016 season, making the Rams' championship run a lightning rod for criticism over the prevalence of high-profile transfers and their impact on high school sports.
Student-athletes are generally eligible for sports upon transferring high schools unless they fail to make what the GHSA defines as a bona fide move. In most cases, that entails that the student-athlete move into his new school district and relinquish his previous residence.
Citing records, Fox5 reports that Taylor’s father rented an apartment in the Grayson district last season but never sold his Covington home. Fox5 shows a photo of Taylor in front of his Covington house with Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh.
That is not proof of a violation, however. Those photos appeared on Taylor's social media in January, after the football season. Taylor would have been eligible last fall provided that his home were on the market and that he did not live there during his time at Grayson.
Regardless, the Fox5 story quotes Sen. Bruce Thompson, R-White, as saying that Taylor and his family were ‘’mocking the system.’’
Thompson was among 12 legislators who sponsored bills in the General Assembly that proposed to take over high school athletics in Georgia and abolish the GHSA. The bills effectively forced the resignation of GHSA executive director Gary Phillips.
Thompson told the TV station that he wants transfers to sit out a year of athletics.
"There's a significant problem with that," Thompson told Fox 5. "And there should be a penalty for that. I don't know what that is, but there should be a penalty."
Ironically, Thompson’s bill proposed a more transfer-friendly environment. SB 203 states: ‘’Where the student lives, with whom the student lives, or which school the student attended the previous year shall not be a factor in determining eligibility.’’
Phillips strongly opposed that idea and addressed it prominently in his resignation statement. The GHSA had formed a committee to study more restrictions on transfers.
If the GHSA finds that Taylor is ineligible, Grayson could be stripped of its championship. The GHSA has forced schools to forfeit football games from previously played seasons over eligibility, but never a state-championship game in football.
The other four prominent senior transfers to Grayson last fall were DeAngelo Gibbs from Peachtree Ridge (signed with Georgia), linebacker Breon Dixon from Peachtree Ridge (Ole Miss), running back/defensive back Jamyest Williams from Archer (South Carolina) and offensive lineman Tony Gray from Central Gwinnett (Ole Miss).
Taylor led Grayson in rushing with 930 yards. He rushed for more than 1,000 yards as a junior at Newton.
Former Grayson head football coach Jeff Herron, now head coach of T.L. Hanna in South Carolina, said in May that Grayson athletics director Brian DeBerry investigated to ensure that all transferred legally.