Cincinnati St. Xavier High School officials issued an apology in a statement on Friday and will allow Wisconsin’s football coaching staff on campus to recruit players.
“St. Xavier High School enthusiastically invites all colleges and universities to recruit our students for their academic, athletic and co-curricular programs,” the statement reads. “We apologize to any school that has ever felt anything less than welcome on our campus or by our staff.”
St. Xavier school officials released the statement to Land of 10 in response to a story that detailed a rift between St. Xavier football coach Steve Specht and Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst, which led Specht to bar Badgers coaches from visiting the school.
St. Xavier director of communications and marketing Becky Schulte was asked what steps the school would take to prevent a similar instance in the future.
“It’s not going to ever happen again, and we do apologize that it happened,” Schulte said by phone. “I don’t know that there’s a way to prevent that except to say that it won’t ever happen.”
Chryst declined to comment after Wisconsin finished its spring practice Friday night. Specht declined to comment when reached by phone.
Specht previously told Land of 10 he was unhappy that Chryst did not accept the commitment of a St. Xavier player more than six years ago when Chryst took over as Pittsburgh’s football coach. Chryst noted earlier this week that the player, offensive lineman Brandyn Cook, was too undersized to play in Pitt’s pro-style system. Chryst said he told Cook he would not have recruited him. Cook ultimately de-committed and signed with Miami (Ohio).
Specht said he had not spoken to any members of Wisconsin’s coaching staff, including Chryst, and wanted Chryst to apologize. Chryst, meanwhile, insisted that he apologized to Specht “right away” and again at a later date. But the fractured relationship prompted Specht to prohibit Chryst and his staff members from recruiting at the school.
Wisconsin signed St. Xavier quarterback Chase Wolf in its 2018 recruiting class despite the limitations. Chryst said Wisconsin’s coaching staff was upfront with the Wolf family about why they were not welcome on school grounds and didn’t visit during the fall evaluation period. Badgers coaches built a relationship with the Wolfs from there, culminating with Chase’s commitment to the program in May.
St. Xavier is an Ohio prep football power that has won three state championships since Specht took over the program in 2004. Wolf was a key contributor as a junior on St. Xavier’s 2016 team, which captured a state title. As a senior, Wolf passed for 2,532 yards with 27 touchdowns. He earned first-team All-Ohio honors, was the Greater Catholic League South player of the year and the Southwest District offensive player of the year.
Steve Wolf, Chase’s father, told Land of 10 that he had received an apology from the high school principal, informing him that every school was welcome on campus. Steve Wolf also spoke with Specht.
“He’s fiery,” Steve Wolf said of Specht. “The reason why he’s such a good coach is because he’s got passion. I don’t agree with a lot of things that happened. But he was really respectful of my kid. If this would have hurt Chase’s recruiting, it would have been a different thing.
“I didn’t agree with him when it happened, but we worked around it. Less drama. We figured out the way we were going to do it and handle it. We signed our letter of commitment off campus. It worked out great. It’s over as far as I’m concerned. It was over with Chase in the beginning of recruiting.”
Steve Wolf said the fact Wisconsin’s coaches could not visit campus was “not that big of a deal” for the family and that they never even brought it up with the St. Xavier administration. Chase developed strong ties with Badgers coaches anyway, particularly Jon Budmayr, who is now Wisconsin’s quarterbacks coach.
“I can’t imagine having that good of a relationship with somebody that I was going to play for,” Steve Wolf said. “They talk. He’s going to come in town. They do all sorts of things. They didn’t need to meet at the school. They went to away games instead of coming to his home basketball games.
“At the end of the day, Steve Specht has done everything in the world for my kid. I don’t agree with what he did. But I see why he was doing it. I think he could have handled it in a different way. But at the same token, we have the ultimate respect for him and we appreciate what he has done with our child.”
Chase Wolf will enroll at Wisconsin this summer.
“I think the best thing that could come out of this is that all the dirty laundry was aired,” Steve Wolf said. “Now we get to the bottom of it and move on because I think Wisconsin is a great school, and I’d love to see more kids go there.”