Bell City High School and Scott County Central High School are fierce sports rivals, in part because the two schools are only 10 miles apart. Another reason for the rivalry is that former Bell City basketball coach David Heeb, who led his team to two state championships, last year moved over to his alma mater, Scott County Central. The rancor that move caused was intense enough that before the season began the two teams canceled their regular season game scheduled for Feb. 14.
In April the Missouri State High School Activities Association imposed sanctions against Heeb, alleging he tried to recruit Bell City players to move into the Scott County Central district and play for the Braves. The MSHSAA barred him from coaching the team during the second semester of the 2006-2007 year.
Now an investigation by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has found that over the past two years the Bell City schools have been claiming state aid for at least nine students who live in the Scott County Central district but attend Bell City schools. Three of the four students who alleged that Heeb tried to recruit them are among the nine students in question, according to DESE.
The MSHSAA will discuss the Scott County Central situation at its meeting in June, but a spokesman said the organization doesn't expect to consider whether the new revelation will affect their sanctions against Heeb. The school has decided to put a planned suit against the MSHSAA on hold for the time being in the hope the MSHSAA does reconsider.
First DESE and the MSHSAA must set the record straight about both the Bell City and Scott County Central schools' actions. If Heeb's sanctions were based on the word of players with axes to grind, they should be re-examined.
Second, the school boards of both schools must question whether this is the example they want their schools setting for students. Rivalries should never sink to this level.