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Iowa WR recruit Arland Bruce IV ruled ineligible at Ankeny; family hires attorney to appeal


Matthew Bain   | Des Moines Register
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Ankeny football's state title hopes took a potentially big hit before the Hawks ever played a second of football on Friday.

Arland Bruce IV, the Iowa receiver recruit who transferred from Olathe North in Kansas to Ankeny after his home county postponed fall high school football due to COVID-19, announced the Iowa High School Athletic Association had ruled him ineligible just a few hours before opening kickoff.

Bruce told the Register the IHSAA's ruling came down to his family's living situation: His two younger brothers, who are in fifth and eighth grade, still live in Olathe, Kansas. It is currently Bruce and his mother in Ankeny, but Bruce's mother gave legal power of attorney of her other two sons to her brother before moving to Iowa.

Bruce and his family have hired attorney Travis Burk to represent them in their appeal. Burk told the Register that they have emailed and called the IHSAA to request Bruce be allowed to play Friday before an emergency court hearing next week can decide whether the 5-foot-10 athlete is eligible. 

The IHSAA has not responded.

Chris Cuellar, the IHSAA's director of communications, told the Register the association cannot comment on ongoing eligibility issues.

Burk said the IHSAA is caught up in the fact that Bruce's mother didn't move the entire "family unit" to Ankeny and that she still spends time with her younger children in Olathe. Bruce and his mother are currently living with another family in Ankeny. His mother signed a lease, Burk said, and spends at least half her time in Ankeny with Bruce.

"She’s a single mom so she doesn't have that liberty (of staying in one location)," Burk said. "She does have two minor children in Olathe, but she signed power of attorney over to her brother. So, in the end, all these other kids get to play. … I know Valley has the two and I guess we’ll find out who else is eligible based on who plays tonight. But Arland doesn't get to play because he has a single mom."

Burk said there is an exception in the IHSAA's handbook that says if there is a "contemporaneous parental move," the student-athlete can be eligible.

"Contemporaneous to (the IHSAA) meant that the whole family unit had to move, and that’s not what contemporaneous means," Burk said. "The only three words required for the exception are 'contemporaneous parental move.' Well, she moved with him."

Burk said the IHSAA allows for an appeals process that takes 20 days. They are hoping to take the appeal to court instead. He is hoping for some leniency due to the unusual circumstances caused by COVID-19.

Bruce tweeted Friday that his family's plan was to all move to Iowa, since he'll be playing his college career as a Hawkeye, once the COVID-19 outbreak dies down.

Bruce's transfer to Ankeny was approved by the school district last week and he is currently enrolled as a student at Ankeny.

Matthew Bain covers recruiting and pretty much anything else under the sports sun for the Des Moines Register and USA TODAY Network.  Contact him at mbain@dmreg.com and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.

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