VALDOSTA, Ga. (WTXL) — The family of Valdosta High School football players Tajh Sanders and Ty'li Lewis are suing the Georgia High School Association for the right to play.
The families of Ty'li Lewis and Tajh Sanders were accused of accepting money and other incentives to transfer their sons to Valdosta High School to play football. In a letter to the high school, the Georgia High School Association wrote that coach Rush Propst and other Valdosta High School booster members were behind it all.
The investigation into the team started after a recording was leaked of a conversation between Propst and the executive director of the touchdown club, Michael Nelson. In an interview with ESPN, Nelson confirmed that he secretly recorded the conversation, but denies leaking it.
In the recording, Propst can be heard telling Nelson, "we have to have some funny money." Nelson asks how much money and Propst says "I don't know who's coming and what they need. They might not ask for anything. I don't advertise it."
Propst is also heard mentioning Tajh Sanders name, saying “his family hadn’t asked for a dime.”
That recording was part of the evidence that GHSA used to make its ruling against the school and players.
Tiajuana Sanders told ABC 27 “the family of Tajh Sanders filed a lawsuit yesterday.”
The lawyer for Tyli Lewis confirmed to ABC 27 the Lewis family is also suing.
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In May, ABC 27 Sports Director Alison Posey asked the families if they received "any money, any gifts, utilities paid for, by the Touchdown Club, Rush Propst, Mike Nelson or anybody here at Valdosta High School?"
The parents said, "No. No. Nobody took anything. We were never approached by anybody to offer us anything."
"We showed our monthly what we paid for rent every month since we've been over here. We showed them everything," said Tiajuana Sanders.
Tajh Sanders and Ty'li Lewis both played for Propst at Colquitt County their freshman seasons. Their parents say they saw Propst's move to Valdosta as a chance to play for Propst again.
Now, they're not playing for anyone. Following the GHSA investigation, both players and two others have been banned from playing sports for GHSA schools for a year, a punishment the families say is not justified.
In addition to players being banned from participating in any sport for a year, Valdosta High School has to pay $7,500 in fines. The football program also cannot participate in any post-season games. The school district filed two appeals with GHSA, both were denied.
During the GHSA investigation, Propst was put on leave from Valdosta. The board of education later voted to not renew his contract.