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Ankeny transfer Arland Bruce IV eager to start appeal process against IHSAA, see field for Week 2


Matthew Bain   | Des Moines Register
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ANKENY, Ia. — Arland Bruce IV woke up Friday morning excited to play football.

He went to his new high school, Ankeny, to lift weights before heading back to a friend's house, where he and his mother, Linda, currently live. They'd just signed a lease there after moving from Olathe, Kansas, where football had been postponed to the spring.

Unlike many of his former teammates at Olathe North High School, Bruce was going to get an opportunity to play his senior season.

Then, he got back to the house.

His mom had bad news.

"My mom tells me that (Iowa High School Athletic Association Executive Director) Tom Keating called and said I was ineligible," Bruce recalled Friday night after watching his new Ankeny teammates trounce Ankeny Centennial 48-6 from the sideline.

The IHSAA informed Bruce and his mother Friday morning that Bruce did not meet eligibility requirements to play football this fall. Bruce said they hired an attorney, Travis Burk, and will appeal the IHSAA's ruling next week. They tried to get in contact with the IHSAA on Friday, Bruce said, but nobody answered their calls or emails.

Bruce and Burk told the Register the IHSAA's ruling boiled down to Bruce's family's living situation: Bruce's two younger brothers, who are in fifth and eighth grade, still live in Olathe, and his mom goes back and forth between Ankeny and the Kansas City suburb.

Before moving her belongings and her oldest son to Ankeny, Bruce's mother gave legal guardianship of her two youngest sons to her brother.

"They basically said they didn't care about that," Bruce said. "And in the rulebook — (Keating) set his own rules, really, because it doesn't say that the whole family has to move. So it’s just disappointing that they twisted it like that. Hopefully I can play next week."

The IHSAA has not responded to Bruce's family or attorney.

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

Burk told the Register 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 — which, he argues, would be difficult for a single mother to not do.

Burk said there is an exception in the IHSAA's handbook that says if there is a "contemporaneous parental move," the transfer 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."

Bruce said his family and attorney will try again to get in contact with someone from the IHSAA on Monday. Burk said the IHSAA allows for an appeals process that takes up to 20 days. He hopes to get an emergency hearing next week and let a court decide whether Bruce should be deemed eligible.

The normal procedure for this would be to file an appeal to the Iowa Board of Education, and then the appeal would go to an administrative law judge.

"It’s been a roller coaster of emotions, like the past few weeks have been," Bruce said. "Hopefully, they answer the phone. We can’t do anything if they don’t answer.

"We have all the legal documentation that we need, and I think the court will see that, too."

Bruce said his mother had planned to move her two younger sons to Iowa after this year because Arland is set to play his next four seasons at the University of Iowa — and, as Bruce said, Ankeny is a whole lot closer to Iowa City than Olathe.

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

As for the game Friday night, Bruce said he enjoyed watching the Hawks dismantle the Jaguars 48-6, giving Ankeny its first win in the rivalry since 2015 and just its second win overall in the series.

His teammate Brody Brecht, also an Iowa receiver recruit, wishes Bruce could have been part of the Week 1 win. But he believes Bruce will be on the field when Ankeny plays at Waukee (0-1) in Week 2.

"We kind of think it’s a little shady, but they have an attorney set up and ready to go. So I think we should be able to get him," Brecht said. "It’s unfortunate he couldn’t play with us tonight, but I think he saw how special this team is, and I think he wants to be a part of that. So, hopefully the IHSAA will let him play."

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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