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'Time is of the essence': Iowa recruit Arland Bruce IV set to appeal eligibility Thursday

Matthew Bain
Des Moines Register

Last Friday, Iowa recruit Arland Bruce IV watched from the sidelines as his former teammate at Olathe North in Kansas, Dale Stout, caught Waukee's game-winning touchdown to beat Ankeny.

Both transferred to their respective Iowa schools in August, when their home county voted to postpone fall football.

Bruce has been ineligible both weeks. Stout has played both weeks.

Although the Iowa High School Athletic Association cannot comment on an ongoing eligibility appeal, Bruce and his attorneys told the Register it has based its ineligibility ruling on Bruce's family's living situation — specifically, that Bruce's two younger brothers still live with an uncle in Olathe, Kansas.

At 8 a.m. Thursday, Bruce and his attorneys will have their opportunity to appeal the IHSAA's decision to the association's executive board.

"The association and the executive committee have an extremely difficult job every year, but especially this one," Brad Obermeier, one of Bruce's attorneys, told the Register on Wednesday. "That being said, as far as we can discern, the only apparent reason that Arland is ineligible is because the whole family did not move at one time. We’ve received, at this point, all their documents and information and that seems to be their position — which is extremely troubling.

"The rules do not require the entire family to move at one time. If that is what they are hanging their hats on for purposes of this appeal, they are reading additional language into their own rules. And we believe that violates numerous levels of not only the law, but principles of equity and fairness."

Ankeny High senior tailback/wide receiver and Iowa recruit Arland Bruce IV (14) sits out a second game as the No. 2 Ankeny Hawks compete against the Waukee Warriors in the first half of play during Week 2 of the Class 4A game on Friday, September 4, 2020 at Waukee Stadium.

The Register contacted IHSAA Executive Director Tom Keating on Wednesday, but he was unable to comment because this is an ongoing eligibility appeal.

Part of the IHSAA's transfer rules reads: "Interpreting the term 'residence' to allow for multiple residences would render the General Transfer Rule meaningless and this is not permitted as a tenant of statutory construction. ... Because there can only be one residence, the IHSAA must determine that the family in fact has only one residence."

After Thursday's hearing, the executive board will have five days to announce its decision. Ankeny plays at Fort Dodge on Friday.

If the executive board does not reverse its decision and rule Bruce immediately eligible by Friday morning, Obermeier said they will renew their motion for an injunction to allow Bruce to play while they argue his case in court.

"There is little question time is of the essence," Obermeier said.

Last Thursday, Polk County District Court denied Bruce's injunction on the IHSAA's eligibility ruling, which prevented him from playing during his appeal. In his ruling, however, Judge Robert Hanson recommended the association rule Bruce eligible at this Thursday's hearing.

The IHSAA informed Bruce and his mother, Linda Bruce, the morning of Aug. 28 that Bruce did not meet eligibility requirements to play football this fall. 

In a sworn affidavit filed as part of her family's injunction motion, Linda Bruce said she had planned on moving closer to Iowa City after this year because Arland is set to play his next four seasons at the University of Iowa. She also said she does not currently own a house in Kansas and that, although she travels back to Olathe to see her younger two sons on occasion, she will spend the majority of her time in Ankeny.

Also attached to the motion was a document showing that Linda Bruce gave guardianship of her two younger sons to her brother before she moved to Ankeny, as well as a copy of the lease she signed when she and Arland moved to Ankeny. (According to the lease, rent is $100 per month. They live in part of another family's house in Ankeny.)

Bruce's transfer to Ankeny was approved by the school district Aug. 21, and he is currently enrolled as a student at Ankeny.

Johnston linebacker Christian Boivin, originally from Michigan, and Southeast Polk lineman Sean O'Hara, originally from Illinois, have also been ruled ineligible and haven't played in their team's first two games.

Meanwhile, other notable out-of-state transfers, such as Valley quarterback Jake Rubley, Valley defensive backs Landon Nelson and Trey Krause, Southeast Polk receiver Isaiah Emanuel, Clear Creek Amana defensive end Mark Gorbatenko and Stout, have played both weeks.

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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