IHSA suspends Marian Central wrestling coach Jordan Blanton, bans freshman wrestler from team

Blanton, wrestler Jimmy Mastny seeking court injunction to block IHSA’s punishment

Marian Central wrestling co-coaches Jordan Blanton and Ryan Prater

Editor’s note: Read the update here.

The IHSA Board of Directors has upheld decisions to suspend Marian Central co-coach Jordan Blanton for this season and ban freshman Jimmy Mastny from ever wrestling at Marian.

The board’s decision on Friday came after IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson found that Blanton and Mastny violated the IHSA’s 3.070 recruiting by-law, which bars any sort of recruitment or offering and accepting inducements for a student-athlete to attend a school.

Both Mastny and Blanton denied violating any rules and said they followed the IHSA’s by-laws. Jimmy Mastny’s mother, Renee, and Blanton filed a motion seeking a temporary restraining order that would block the IHSA’s punishment, which will be heard in court Thursday morning.

“It’s been kind of annoying that I can’t wrestle while this is going on,” Mastny said. “I’m disappointed.”

Anderson stood behind his decision in a statement to Shaw Local on Tuesday. He said the IHSA’s recruitment by-laws are centered around the idea that a school or coach cannot provide a student-athlete with “any remunerations of any kind” or that a student can’t receive or be offered a special inducement of any kind not made available to all applicants who enroll in the school or apply to the school.

“Regardless of intent or any prior relationship, the facts of this case led me to believe that the IHSA recruiting by-laws were violated when the student-athlete in question was provided housing by relatives of the head coach,” Anderson said. “The IHSA office is charged with enforcing the rules put in place by our 800-plus member high schools, which seek to reinforce the Association’s mission of creating ‘equitable participation in interscholastic athletics and activities that enrich the educational experience.’

“I believe those rules were justifiably applied in this situation and that notion was supported by the IHSA Board of Directors upon appeal.”

The suspensions came after the IHSA investigated how Mastny, a nationally ranked wrestler, came to be enrolled at Marian. His family transferred guardianship of Mastny to Stacey Blanton, Jordan’s mother, because the Mastnys live in Oregon, Ill., and struggled to find a home closer to Marian, located more than 60 miles away in Woodstock.

Both of Mastny’s parents, Jim and Renee, said there was no ill intent in their decision to pass over guardianship of their son in order for him to live within 30-miles of the private school and follow the IHSA’s rule.

Jimmy Mastny said he wanted to attend Marian since he visited the school for club wrestling as a sixth-grader. He enjoyed the smaller class sizes and felt like he could excel at Marian.

“I was always determined to go there,” Jimmy Mastny said.

“I believe those rules were justifiably applied in this situation and that notion was supported by the IHSA Board of Directors upon appeal.”

—  Craig Anderson, IHSA Executive Director

Renee Mastny said she started a friendship with Stacey Blanton in 2017 when the two came in contact through Stacey’s flower arrangements in Woodstock. They built a strong friendship over the years, according to Renee Mastny, and when Stacey Blanton heard that the family struggled to find a way to live closer to the school, she offered to help by taking guardianship of Jimmy Mastny.

The family declined at first, but after looking for some more homes and Jimmy Mastny’s insistence to attend Marian, they agreed. Stacey and her husband decided to apply for legal guardianship of Jimmy Mastny during the summer, he moved in to their house in mid-August and they received guardianship in September.

“Looking from the outside in, someone says ‘Oh, that’s Jordan’s mom and dad and he goes to school at Marian,’ OK,” Stacey Blanton said. “But we legally did this and they paid his tuition, nothing fishy, nothing weird. People who don’t know the story would think it’s weird.”

Jordan Blanton was one of the 30 coaches on the 250-member Illinois National Team, according to Renne Masnty. Despite that, she never felt like the Blantons or Marian tried to recruit her son.

“I just feel them trying to peg this as a bad situation is pretty terrible,” Renee Mastny said of the IHSA.

Jimmy Mastny wasn’t the lone wrestler the IHSA investigated according to Marian athletic director Cody O’Neill. The organization looked into three wrestlers who transferred into the program after schools raised concerns about their transfers. O’Neill said the IHSA found there was no recruiting involved in those transfers.

Both Jordan Blanton and O’Neill said the school did everything according to the IHSA by-laws and cooperated with the IHSA’s investigations. Jordan Blanton and O’Neill said they were not involved in various processes to enroll at Marian and directed the students to the admissions department.

IHSA by-law 3.072, which falls under 3.070, reads that it should be a violation for any student-athlete to receive or be offered remunerations or inducement not made available to all students. One of the inducements includes residence with anyone connected to the school.

Jordan Blanton and the Mastnys argue the IHSA didn’t follow its own by-laws since Stacy Blanton was not directly associated with Marian.

“The people associated with Marian Central acted 100% within the guidelines and the family made a decision to send Jimmy to Marian Central,” Jordan Blanton said. “He wanted to go to Marian Central, the family was going to do whatever they could to get them to Marian Central, whether it be selling their house, whether it be moving, whether it be doing all that stuff, they decided to give guardianship up of their child. All of this was legal.”

What’s next remains a question for both the Mastnys and Marian. Jordan Blanton said everything was on the table as he and the family decide what to do next.

Despite his suspension from the team for the rest of the season, Jordan Blanton said he remained confident in his co-coach Ryan Prater, who will try to continue the program’s goal of competing for a state championship this season.

Renee Mastny said her son is committed to attending Marian despite his ban from wrestling. The family felt confident that Jimmy Mastny’s wrestling career wouldn’t be hindered since he could show off his ability in different tournaments, including nationals, outside of the high school season.

Although Mastny could transfer to a different school and wrestle there according to the IHSA, Jimmy Mastny is committed to Marian and won’t leave.

“That not on the table for me,” Jimmy Mastny said.

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