Skyridge High Football Coach Suspended For Remainder Of Playoffs

Nov 8, 2023, 10:21 PM | Updated: Nov 9, 2023, 5:26 pm

Skyridge High School, Justin Hemm, Suspended...

Skyridge High School Football coach Justin Hemm has been suspended two games for playing an ineligible player. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

(Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

LEHI, Utah – Skyridge High School will continue through the 6A Playoffs without its head coach, Justin Hemm.

The UHSAA suspended Hemm for playing an ineligible player in the two most recent games of the football season. Those two games were playoff contests. The first was on October 27, a 49-14 victory over Farmington. Then, on November 3, against Pleasant Grove. Skyridge won that game 37-30.

The Falcons are preparing to take on No. 1 seed American Fork in the 6A Semifinals this Friday at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

UHSAA suspends Skyridge Football coach

Skyridge High School self-reported the violation of playing an ineligible player in those two playoff victories. That report was submitted to the Board of Managers of Region 3, which recommended that the Hemm be suspended from all activities for a period of two weeks. That would cover the semifinals in the 6A Playoffs this weekend and a potential Championship Game appearance next week.

Pleasant Grove High School officials objected to the Region 3 recommendation and asked the UHSAA to declare a forfeit from the quarterfinals game, requiring Skyridge to vacate that win.

On November 8, 2023, the UHSAA asked both Skyridge and Pleasant Grove to appear before the Association’s Executive Committee for a hearing on the recommendation and the request to vacate.

Skyridge High School placed on probation

After hearing testimonies from both schools, the UHSAA Executive Committee ruled that the suspension of first-year coach Hemm was accepted. Along with the suspension, Skyridge High School is fined $3,000 for lack of institutional control for playing an ineligible player in two games.

Then, Skyridge High School will be placed on probation for one year. Probation will require Skyridge to report to the UHSAA to prevent a recurrence of similar infractions.

Utah High School Football Rule Change

UHSAA later sent an email regarding the suspension detailing the rule change that resulted in the head coach’s suspension rather than game forfeits.

Prior to 2020 the UHSAA rule regarding forfeitures was controlled by this rule:

SECTION 6: Ineligible Player/Participant Contests in which an ineligible participant competes shall result in forfeiture of the contest or disqualification from the competition in which the ineligible participant competed.

The new rule, voted into place by the trustees and approved by member schools, is as such.

SECTION 7: Ineligible Player/Participant
A. Contests in which an ineligible player/participant competes shall result in the head coach being suspended for all consecutive sport activities (contests, practice, meetings, etc.) and at all team levels for the number of contests in which the ineligible player/participant competed. Suspension will carry over to the next school year where applicable. Additional sanctions may be applied to the coaching staff and/or the school by the Region Board of Managers, the Executive Committee or the Board of Trustees.

B. The player/participant remains ineligible until the student is deemed eligible by the UHSAA office.

You can watch American Fork vs. Skyridge on Friday, November 10, at 11 a.m. on KSLsports.com or the KSL Sports app.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU in the Big 12 Conference on X and Threads: @Mitch_Harper.

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Skyridge High Football Coach Suspended For Remainder Of Playoffs