NMAA suspends former Piedra Vista High School wrestling coach Levi Stout for 180 days

Joshua Perry
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — The New Mexico Activities Association on June 5 upheld a decision to suspend former Piedra Vista High School wrestling coach Levi Stout for 180 school days.

The Piedra Vista High School Athletic Department declined to renew Stout's contract on March 19. Two weeks later, on April 1, the NMAA suspended Stout. He appealed the decision during a hearing earlier this month.

The 180-day suspension prevents Stout from accepting another high school wrestling coaching job in New Mexico until April 1, 2015.

Stout said it was tough to hear the decision from the NMAA.

"I have no chance to get my job back next year," he said via text message on Friday.

Over the past few months, wrestlers and their parents rallied around Stout in the hopes of saving his job. They organized multiple demonstrations and voiced their concerns during school board meetings.

Piedra Vista originally declined to renew Stout's contract in March, less than a month after he led the team to its fourth consecutive 4A state championship.

The school issued a letter accusing Stout of seven infractions, including ineligible students wrestling for PV during a tournament in Reno, Nev., students traveling in a vehicle that wasn't approved by the district, students traveling with parents other than their own, questions about the recruitment of a wrestler, a derogatory tweet from Stout's Twitter account, a violation of a policy regarding his attendance at a middle school wrestling tournament and allowing two students who were not in PV's attendance zone to wrestle.

Stout said the NMAA only brought up one of the infractions during the hearing last week. He said the organization focused on a tournament in December in Reno, during which Stout allowed two ineligible students to wrestle.

"They never even brought up anything other than the two boys that got to wrestle," Stout said of the hearing. "It was a 'guilty until proven innocent' setting. My attorney had evidence negating everything on the NMAA letter of suspension, except the Reno trip infraction. I admitted to my wrongdoing and basically asked the board for mercy and a lesser punishment. They didn't see fit, I guess."

Dusty Young, associate director of the NMAA, said the organization will not comment on the suspension, calling it a "personnel issue."

This marks Stout's second suspension since becoming head wrestling coach in 2008. The Farmington Municipal School District gave him a 10-day suspension in 2011 for being at a middle school wrestling tournament in which a family member wasn't involved. According to the district, that violated the eighth-grade athletic policy.

The school district's website listed a job opening for a new wrestling coach at Piedra Vista on June 6.

District Superintendant Janel Ryan declined to comment Stout's suspension.

She said the Piedra Vista administration will interview candidates for the coaching position and forward a recommendation to her.

Stout said one of his assistants applied for the job.

"We have a great coaching staff and hope they hire from within," he said. "Kids, coaches and parents are all on board with one of the assistants taking the program, and we're praying the (administration) sees it the same way."

Stout said he'll try to stay involved with wrestling beyond the high school level.

"I plan on being heavily involved with our traveling youth program," he said.

Joshua Perry is the sports editor of The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 and Follow him @jperrysuu on Twitter.