Valley View Tigers look past controversy, inquiries

While the Valley View boys’ soccer program has once again established itself as a perennial power in the Rio Grande Valley, the Tigers faced allegations this season lodged from the lower Valley about the eligibility of key roster players.

Mario De Los Santos, a striker for the team, is one of at least two players’ whose eligibility was known to be in question. A 19-year-old senior, De Los Santos was cleared for a waiver under family hardship to play a fifth year for the Tigers, but not before Valley View was forced to forfeit games he competed in during tournament play when he did not have the waiver.

While the University Interscholastic League has already cleared the program in March of at least one case alleging wrongdoing, De Los Santos’ case, a UIL email from a month prior shows that another unnamed player was cleared to play as an amateur — which is one of the points of contention in allegations Valley View has faced for much of the season.

“Based on the information that you have given us, this student athlete would be considered an amateur according to UIL Constitution and Contest Rules,” UIL Assistant Athletic Director Joseph Garmon wrote in a Feb. 8 email to Valley View ISD.

Still, pressure and discontent persisted from the four Brownsville campuses in District 32-5A — Porter, Pace, Veterans and Lopez. Three days after district ended, Porter’s principal, Mary Solis, sent an email to Valley View and the district executive chair, Christian Navarro of Edcouch-Elsa ISD, to redact a fraudulent document that was originally used as evidence questioning a Valley View’s student-athlete’s eligibility.

“It was not a formal accusation,” Solis wrote in a March 22 email. “The documents provided are circulating and appear official. It was given to Porter ECHS anonymously so I did not put it in writing to the DEC Chair.”

Valley View Athletic Director Julio Martinez recently referred to these allegations as a means of discrediting the Tigers’ accomplishments.

“This has been going on since January, those Brownsville schools have been going at us since January, trying to disqualify us,” Martinez said Tuesday. “They asked for our eligibility list. It’s been an ongoing feud on their side, because we’re not fighting back. We have nothing to hide; everything’s been cleared by UIL. They want to smear the name.”

Martinez also provided emails from as far back as early February showing the UIL was aware of the allegations and documents, which The Monitor received via an anonymous email in late March.

After missing all of the district season because his waiver was under review, De Los Santos helped Valley View punch its ticket as the final Valley team standing with three goals in a 4-2 win over Brownsville Veterans, the only team who beat the Tigers in district play.