Varsity Soccer

East High suspends own soccer coach before state playoff run, KSHSAA says

East girls soccer coach Dylan Gruntzel has been suspended for the Aces' entire postseason after confirmed allegations of coaching one of his players before the season.
East girls soccer coach Dylan Gruntzel has been suspended for the Aces' entire postseason after confirmed allegations of coaching one of his players before the season. The Wichita Eagle

East plays against the No. 1 girls soccer team in Class 6A on the road Tuesday for a spot in the state high school soccer semifinals.

But East won't have its coach on the sideline.

Coach Dylan Gruntzel was suspended for the Aces' entire postseason for coaching one of his players before the season started, according to the Kansas State High School Activities Association. But those allegations did not come from KSHSAA.

KSHSAA soccer administrator David Cherry said East reported the infraction.

"We did receive a phone call, and our protocol is to refer it back to our member schools," Cherry said.

Calls made to the East High School Activities Office were not immediately returned, and Gruntzel declined to comment.

Cherry said KSHSAA investigated the claims and confirmed that Gruntzel coached an East freshman during the fall club season. Gruntzel did not coach East in its 4-1 win against South in the regional semifinals or the team's 3-1 victory over Garden City to win the regional tournament.

"A student becomes a member of a school's athletic squad, scholars bowl or debate team when he or she first participates in a practice session," according to the KSHSAA handbook, rule 22, article 3.

This rule is coupled with rule 30, article 3, which states: "During the school year, may only be involved with his/her athletes in a sport during the season.

"During the school year, prior to or after season, a coach/coach's aide may not: a. Organize or conduct practices or competitions for his/her athletes. b. Practice or compete with or against his/her athletes."

By the handbook's definition, the freshman was not technically a member of the East girls soccer team in the fall because she had not practiced with the team.

Cherry said basketball coaches are not allowed to coach players they "will" coach in the fall, knowing they will be on the team in the winter. Same with football. In the spring, coaches cannot instruct players he or she will coach in the fall (outside of the designated times).

"The handbook has rules and regulations," Cherry said, "not interpretations.

"The handbook is not the only source of a rule or regulation."

Cherry said KSHSAA also refers back to manuals and rules meetings when interpretation of a rule is needed. But he said KSHSAA wouldn't have made an interpretation if someone from East had not forwarded the information.

"They handled it perfectly," Cherry said.

Dylan Gruntzel is a member of the 2017 Wichita Eagle All-Metro girls soccer team. (6/1/2017)

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