Belles, James, and the Police Report

Arizona Sports News online

Now that the police report has come out in the Hamilton scandal, I’ve taken a few days to gather my thoughts on what I’ve read around the investigation with principal Ken James and former head football coach Steve Belles being front and center. I think the County Attorney’s office is going to have an interesting decision moving forward. My big takeaway from the report.

Who knew what, when did they know?

I know Ken James. At least, I think I know him. Two of our kids were at Basha high school when James was principal. He was fair, honest, and approachable for the kids. I was asked to sit in on the hiring process of James at the school. He was at EVERY after-school event on campus. Didn’t matter if it was choir or volleyball, he was at everything. He’s an attention-to-detail guy. He’s a good man. Some of you will disagree.

I know Steve Belles. At least, I think I know him. I’ve had him on shows both at 3TV and now with and have gotten to know him a bit off the field. Because we live in the Chandler Unified School District, and sports just happens to be my industry, being in-and-around the high school scene is important. I’ve seen Steve in all sorts of environments. No question he’s a lightning rod to some, but I think that comes with the high success of the program.

Who knew what, when did they know?

There is nothing funny about where we are today. No one should be gloating in the District. I’ve read the police report. I’ve read it over and over. I am disappointed in both James and Belles. Doesn’t mean that they are bad people. Doesn’t mean that they aren’t good men. If my son lived by Hamilton high school today and wanted to play football, I’d have NO problem having him play for Steve Belles.

The police report is ugly. To me it shows a head coach who didn’t pay attention to the warning signs. In reading the report it’s clear that Belles had heard that some form of hazing was going on within the program. In my opinion, he wanted the players to handle it, rather than the coaching staff getting fully involved. That is an old school football coach attitude about a current day problem. THAT CAN’T HAPPEN.

In reading the police report, I am more disappointed in James. When he was principal at Highland High School back in the 1990’s, he dealt with the “Devil Dog” scandal, a story that rocked the East Valley at the time. He has been in the fire before and I’ve seen him handle pressure situations. Again, in reading the police report, James comes across as careless, which I’ve never known him to be. Taking down notes in a spiral bound notebook isn’t what I would consider the best way to handle accusations from a parent (I am being kind here). The police should’ve been brought into the situation immediately, no second thoughts. However, this happened under his watch at his school. He’s the one responsible. I would love for my son to have Ken James as his principal today.

Just so we are clear. Just because it’s in a police report, doesn’t mean that it’s accurate. It’s just people’s recollections of what THEY BELIEVE took place. Have had a few on the legal side point out to me that people should tap the brakes until the County Attorney’s office reacts to all of this.

Like anything, I am sure that there are details that weren’t in the police report that I am not aware of. Like anything, what we read or see on the 10pm news isn’t really close to what is truly happening behind the scenes. I know earlier this week before sitting down to an interview with Larry Fitzgerald, he asked me about the Hamilton program. Everyone in the Valley is talking about it.

I thought the timing of the raid of James’ office and the timing of the release of the police report were interesting. Day after school ends to raid the office, first day of the school year to release the report.

They are both in the wrong according to the report. no question about it. For that, I am extremely disappointed. But…I haven’t heard their COMPLETE side of the story. Doubt I ever will until I’m sitting in the back of a court room or watching the proceedings online.

Who knew what, when did they know?

I know what type of men these two are. At least, I think I do…