A high school football conference in Illinois last week spiked a career passing record at the request of a senior who received unwanted assistance in making the key pass.
Nate Haasis, a 17-year-old quarterback at Southeast High School in Springfield, Ill., entered the last game of the season against Cahokia High School on Oct. 25 closing in on a Central State Eight conference record for career passing yards.
Mr. Haasis broke the conference career passing record after his coach and the opposing team’s coach agreed on a plan to help make it happen.
With a minute left in the game, the senior threw a 37-yard pass that brought his career total to 5,006 yards, a new conference record. But he sensed something wasn’t right. No one was guarding the receivers downfield or rushing him. When he found out that his coach and the Cahokia High team’s coach had struck a deal to let him complete the pass so he would break the record, Mr. Haasis wanted none of it.
After he learned of the coaches’ role, Mr. Haasis sent a letter to the Central State Eight conference requesting the pass not count.
Principals of schools in the conference voted unanimously on Nov. 12 to respect his wishes.
The choice to give up the record has made the unassuming National Honor Society member something of a celebrity. ABC’s “World News Tonight” selected him as its “Person of the Week” on Nov. 7, and editorial writers have praised his decision as a welcome tonic to the egoism and lack of scruples many see in contemporary sports.
Barron Robinson, the principal of Southeast High, said the school has been deluged with calls from the news media.
“I’m surprised by the amount of nationwide attention it has gotten,” he said. “It’s nice people recognize a young man when he does a good thing. We don’t always look for good in teenagers.”
The quarterback is now turning down most requests for interviews and just wants to get back to concentrating on getting into a college where he can play football, according to his principal.
Mr. Robinson understands that desire for normality: “I’m just trying to get back to running a school.”
The coaches’ decision to fix a situation so Mr. Haasis could break the record has drawn scathing criticism.
“It wasn’t a good decision. I will leave it at that. It’s a personnel issue,” Mr. Robinson said.
Neal Taylor, the coach at Southeast High, told The State Journal-Register that his “intention was just to get Nate’s name in the record book. It was just an attempt to do something good and no good came of it.”