UIL suspends two North Shore coaches for recruiting violations

By David Taylor
Managing Editor

Former North Shore offensive coordinator Andrew Cameron faced the UIL Executive Committee last Tuesday to answer questions of impropriety in recruiting and admitted to the five-member overseers he had indeed attempted to recruit players to North Shore.

The punishment was swift and decisive. The coach was given the ultimate punishment resulting in a rare three-year banishment from all UIL activities. The committee also recommended a two-game suspension at the beginning of district play for North Shore head coach Willie Gaston, who was not involved and unaware of Cameron’s activities, but the committee felt like the buck stopped at his door for lack of oversight. Both votes were unanimous.

“I do come with sincere humility to acknowledge my mistakes that I made,” a contrite Cameron told the committee. “This situation has completely uprooted my life. First and foremost, I apologize to my family…my friends and colleagues,” he said. “I am deeply remorseful to them and understand the gravity of my errors.”

Cameron is accused of violating Section 51(a)(8): “Any covered school district personnel (all UIL contest sponsors), who by act or omission causes a student representative or a member school to do or fail to do any one or more of those actions or omissions listed below shall be in violation of the Constitution and Contest Rules.” Cameron violated Category A(8) which was recruiting and requires a more severe penalty.

He was also in violation of Section 52b, “Failing to comply with the UIL Constitution and Contest Rules” while attempting to recruit via X (formerly Twitter) a student from the Spring Dekaney program. The violation came to light when Dekaney head coach Anthony Williams, instead of contacting UIL, posted a copy of the Tweet from Cameron to his player. The district also received information that Cameron was also talking to a student from Cy Falls in the Cypress Fairbanks ISD.

“I accept full responsibility … and I apologize to Galena Park North Shore. All they did was trust me to be a leader in their program, and I failed them,” he continued.

Cameron, who grew up in a family of educators and came from Waco to work at North Shore, said he was taught better than this.

“Neither the staff nor the kids at North Shore should be penalized for my own actions. I humbly ask for your guys’ forgiveness, and I’m eager to demonstrate my growth,” he said. “That’s why I resigned from North Shore because ultimately it was me and my doing…coming from very terrible mistakes and weak moments that I had,” the coach explained.

The mea culpa, however, was not enough to deter the committee from handing down a harsh punishment.

Mike Motheral (Lubbock), who chairs the UIL State Executive Committee which is appointed by the Commissioner of the Texas Education Agency, had a pointed question for Cameron.

“You’ve alluded to mistakes you’ve made so are you admitting to the fact that you reached out to kids to try and recruit them to your school?” he asked.

“Yes sir,” Cameron responded.

The committee also praised the district for its intense investigation that followed.

“We unfortunately have to deal with these on occasions and I don’t think I can remember a school district who has gone to the links that you folks have trying to ferret out all the information and get to the bottom of this circumstance…kudos to you for jumping on top of this thing and being very, very specific and very detailed in everything that that you have done,” Chairman Motheral said.

GPISD assistant athletic director Kae Walker detailed a meeting with Cameron on Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 6, where Cameron was given the option to be placed on administrative leave or resign. Cameron chose resignation, but GPISD did not stop there.

“We felt like it was very important for us to go and do a thorough process to make sure nothing like this was going on throughout the entire North Shore football program,” Walker said.

The investigation began with interviews with every assistant coach, Gaston, former NS football coach Jon Kay, and a dive into mobility rates at the feeder schools Cunningham and North Shore Middle Schools, and the Ninth-Grade campus.

“There was nothing there that alerted us of anything. We live in an area with a ton of apartment complexes,” he said, that accounted for 177 new enrollees at the Ninth-Grade campus of 1,100 students and matched up with a 10 percent mobility rate. “The next step that we did was track every single kid that played from the seventh grade until varsity,” Walker said.

The Mustang varsity fielded 80 players last year. Sixty of those kids came from Cunningham and North Shore Middle School, attending from the seventh grade through the varsity roster. Fifteen enrolled as incoming freshmen or sophomores and played underclassmen football, leaving five to account for.

“Two of those kids were actually enrolled in Cunningham or North Shore Middle School and went to another high school and then returned back with the same address they were using as middle school students,” the assistant AD said.

Of the final three, one was a move in from Louisiana, another from Cy Ridge, and the final student from Clear Springs. All three played on junior varsity and were moved up at the end of the year as the Mustangs went into the playoffs, something that’s typical with most teams.

“We believe that this was an isolated incident that really doesn’t reflect how we do things at Galena Park ISD,” he said.

He also reminded the committee that despite Cameron’s attempts, he was unsuccessful.

There was an attempt by one committee member to sanction the entire program with a one-year probation, but he was quickly shut down by three committee members killing any proposition. North Shore never benefitted from any recruiting efforts by Cameron.

The Executive Committee did not make it clear whether the coach could participate in the practices leading up to the two district games he will serve a suspension. Dr. John Moore, superintendent, said he has asked for clarification.

The schedule indicates that North Shore will play Kingwood and Humble the first two games of district, one of them likely at Turner Stadium in Humble.

“We will name an interim coach when Willie has to serve the suspension and we’ll meet with the coaches prior to that to make sure they have everything that they need,” Moore said.

Moore credits GPISD’s success on the field and in the classroom because of stability.

“I have known Willie Gaston and Kae Walker since they were 11 years old. I have supreme confidence in those two young men. They are our future, and I was very proud of how they handled themselves in the meeting,” he said.

To ward off any other incident of this nature, Moore said they planned on adding a couple of more steps in the Previous Athletic Participation Form process.

“The process we’ve been following is setup for us by UIL and we’ve been following it all along. There’s been no red flags and no issues,” he said.

Moore said his former coach got out of line and knew it was wrong.

“We had a young guy move into a position and wasn’t ready for it,” he said.

“Hundreds of people, including staff, students, and community, have worked thousands of hours to build the North Shore High School football program into a successful team with impeccable integrity,” a statement from the district read. “As a school district, we are thoroughly embarrassed by the former coach’s actions, and we have never experienced anything like this before. The North Shore football program is one of the most successful football teams across the country, having played in five of the last six Class 6A Division I state championships and won four titles since 2015 in UIL’s largest classification.”

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