OKLAHOMA CITY — Jenks coach Allan Trimble, who leads one of the state’s most high-profile prep football programs, was reinstated from suspension Tuesday by the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association board of directors.
But the board took no action to end the suspension of another well-known coach, Antwain Jimmerson, formerly of Booker T. Washington High School in Tulsa. Jimmerson was out of state tending to family issues and could not attend the meeting, OSSAA Executive Secretary Ed Sheakley said.
Jenks and Tulsa Washington long have been among the state’s elite programs and the coaches’ suspensions last October for rules violations led many Oklahoma school districts to re-examine procedures for following OSSAA eligibility guidelines.
Trimble has been Jenks’ head coach for 14 years and has guided the Trojans to nine titles in Class 6A, Oklahoma’s highest classification. Dozens of Jenks players have gone on to play for NCAA Division I colleges and some have reached the NFL.
“The events of the past year have been difficult for me, for my family, for Jenks,” Trimble said after the meeting in his first public comments since he was suspended. “But I’ve learned a great deal from this experience, which I believe will make me a better person, a better teacher and a better coach.
“Most of all, I just want to return to my passion, to what I do, to work with the great kids we have at Jenks.”
Trimble was suspended by the district in October after a report found the football program violated state rules against recruiting. An investigation detailed rule violations with at least seven Jenks players dating back to 1998, including that the coach helped arrange for a player to live with a booster so he could play for the school.
The OSSAA board later extended Trimble’s suspension indefinitely.
But after a 44-minute executive session Tuesday, the board voted unanimously to reinstate both Trimble and one of his assistants, David Alexander, who also had been suspended. Board members said both men were forthright and candid and acknowledged their mistakes.
“They owned up to everything,” said the board’s president, Tulsa Public Schools athletic director Stephanie Spring.
The Jenks district has agreed with the nearby Owasso and Sapulpa districts to audit each others' athletic departments to help prevent future rules violations. Jenks Superintendent Kirby Lehman said Trimble also has developed an "incidental contact form" to allow Jenks coaches to address chance meetings with players from opposing teams in public places.
Lehman said Trimble would resume his coaching duties Tuesdayackup plan if the OSSAA board had not reinstated Trimble but added he felt "100 percent sure" the penalties assessed against Trimble and Alexander had been fulfilled.
The Tulsa district suspended Jimmerson indefinitely and removed him as Booker T. Washington's athletic director after an investigation revealed more than 40 Washington athletes were ineligible to play. The investigation found Jimmerson and other school officials failed to conduct grade checks for five weeks and that a student not enrolled at Washington was allowed to practice with the Hornets' football team.
Washington's football team forfeited three games — including a 90-0 victory over Miami, knocking the Hornets out of a chance to make the playoffs and defend the Class 5A state title they won in 2008 under Jimmerson.
Jimmerson resigned as the Hornets' coach in January after 10 seasons. Spring said Jimmerson knows that if he wants to coach again in Oklahoma, he must appear before the OSSAA board. The board's next scheduled meeting is in August.
The board did reinstate two other former Washington coaches: Scott Gilkey, a football and track assistant, and Ioder "Butch" Fisher, the tennis head coach.
"This is what I do," a relieved Gilkey said after the board's vote. "I'm a coach because of the people who influenced my life. I want to give back."