Lake Park football program on probation for one year after recruiting violations
The football program at Lake Park High School is on probation for one year after an investigation revealed four years of recruiting violations.
The Illinois High School Association has ruled that the Roselle school's former head football coach Chris Roll violated bylaws pertaining to the recruitment of students for athletic purposes, according to a statement posted Friday on the Lake Park High School District 108 website.
The probation status does not deprive Lake Park of any IHSA privileges, District 108 officials said, but "it serves as an official warning that any further violation of IHSA bylaws or rules could bring more serious consequences."
The allegations were brought to light amid an internal investigation that focused on how a sex offender was allowed to work with this year's Lancers as a volunteer coach. Frank J. Battaglia, 72, pleaded guilty to aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a high school girl in the early 1990s.
After his background was revealed, the district suspended Roll and placed Principal Dominic Manola and Athletic Director Pete Schauer on administrative leave late last month. Roll was later ousted from the head coach position.
As an IHSA member, the district says, Lake Park officials are required to investigate the program and report findings of any potential violations.
IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said in a written statement that Roll "engaged in correspondence with potential student-athletes, including some outside his district, that met the definition of illegal recruiting per IHSA bylaws." Additional details about the recruiting violations were not immediately available.
District 108 officials said they "received communication" from IHSA on Thursday about the football program's probation through Nov. 21, 2020. Roll also is ineligible to coach at any IHSA school for one year.
Additional penalties were likely avoided because of the district's decision to remove Roll from the program, according to the district's statement.
"Lake Park is committed to moving forward and taking the necessary steps to rebuild a quality football program that enjoys sustained success and affords our student-athletes and community a positive experience," district officials said in the statement.
The District 108 investigation determined Roll failed to follow the district's required process when he directed an assistant coach to remove Battaglia's name from a list of coaches submitted to the human resources department. As a result, the volunteer coach was never subject to a criminal-background check.
Schauer questioned Roll midseason about Battaglia's identity but never required a background check be completed, district officials said in an earlier statement. The district said Manola also neglected to report a midseason conversation where he was told Battaglia "had a background which could prevent him from working with student athletes."
Roll, Schauer and Manola are expected to be disciplined, District 108 officials said. They returned to their administration and teaching positions Nov. 8.
• Daily Herald staff writer Robert Sanchez contributed to this report.