Brian Soi, a national top 100 recruit who signed as BYU’s No. 1 defensive prize recruit last February; his brother Justin Soi, a senior defensive end/tight end; and their first cousin, Isley Filiaga, a dominant prep defensive tackle, will likely opt to play for the Aggies rather than take the junior college route, family sources have confirmed.
The Soi family received disheartening news some weeks ago – despite two appeals that were denied – from the NCAA Clearing House that Brian’s extra credit classes this past summer still left him a quarter-credit shy of qualifying, even if he scored a passing score in either his ACT or SAT tests.
BYU fans, through TBS, have closely followed Brian Soi’s long and winding journey from his recruiting daze to Hargrave Military Academy, a Virginia prep school. An immediate family member said Brian passed his final ACT test at Hargrave, but it was all for nought for Soi, who desperately wanted to play for BYU.
“Brian passed his ACT test. His coaches said he would make sure he passed the test and get back to BYU. Well, he passed it.”
Soi wowed college recruiters from major East Coast powers like Miami, Virginia Tech by his sheer dominance at Hargrave of other major prospects they were recruiting from the top prep schools in the nation.
The bigger problem has Brian’s parents, especially his mother Pona, hopping mad at Brian’s academic counselor at Timpview High School. “His counselor should have helped my son graduate with the right core classes, and tutoring if he needed it.”
Frustrated and angry, she said Timpview’ academics counselot set up Brian’s class schedule for him simply to get by and graduate, rather than incorporating classes that would allow him to be eligible for NCAA football qualification.
“That is what he did to Brian his sophomore year,” she continued. He should know all of the core classes Brian is supposed to take. For his sophomore year, he gave Brian auto mechanics, catering contest class and the singing class. He knows that Brian needs core classes. He is the only one that knows what core classes Timpview gives out to the kids to be eligible for the NCAA. He knows what to do, but they didn’t guide him (Brian) in the right path to be eligible. I wish I knew these things, then,” Pona Soi, added.
Soi apparently had more than enough credit hours to qualify, but he simply lacked sufficient core classes mandated by the NCAA Clearing House.
“The councilors are supposed to help my sons know what classes to take to get into college. If they don’t pass the test (ACT), then it is their (son’s) fault. But’s that’s not what happened,” Pona said.
The other victim was BYU, which held Soi’s scholarship for a full year – when they were preciously few in number – in hopes Brian would be admitted this winter after passing his ACT test.
“Brian, his sophomore year, he didn’t know what classes to take and didn’t know what core classes he needed to take. You see how long it took for the NCAA to tell us he wasn’t eligible? At Timpview, the registration counselor told us that it was 1.25 credits of English and math that the NCAA is not going to accept, but when BYU sent Brian’s transcripts appealing to the NCAA about the 1.25 credits, they said he has to many hours in English and math credits. He has to much in one course and not enough in another core class. I feel the counselor should have given Brian all the core classes he needed in his sophomore year. The high school counselor should what he is supposed to take to become eligible for the NCAA. That’s his job,” Soi’s mother continued.
After the NCAA Clearing House twice rejected Brian’s school transcripts as insufficient, Pona Soi did some investigating of her own. She has learned her younger son, Justin, will also not be academically eligible for Division I status for the same reasons as Brian from Timpview– and she is fit to be tied.
“He (Timpview’s academic counselor) said Justin couldn’t handle the five core classes he was supposed to take. Why are they saying that to him? It’s really bad when he tells my son Justin, ‘I don’t think you can handle this (core classes).’ I wanted Justin to take all of his core classes, but Justin isn’t taking any core classes in his senior year; so he’s going to go Prop 48, like Brian.”
TBS’ efforts to contact Timpview’s academic counselor were unsuccessful because of the holiday break. TBS deleted the counselor’s name from Pona Soi’s comments until the damaging allegations are further evaluated and reviewed.
Pona said she was not sure if the counselor was “incompetent or prejudiced against Polynesians.”
She asserted, “He’s doing this to other Polynesian kids. He asked all the students in the class which ones wanted to go to college. There were seven Polynesian girls. Two of them, with 4.0 grade point averages who are volleyball players, raised their hands. He said, ‘I don’t think so,’ and one of the Polynesian girls said, ‘Why, are we stupid?’ He (counselor) didn’t say anything.”
“He (counselor) was supposed to give out BYU applications for scholarships, and Unga, this Tongan girl with a 4.0 grade point average, raised her hand for one and did so for a long time – and he still didn’t give her one. So she (Unga) called over to her palagi (causcasian) friend, Rachel, to raise her hand. As soon as Rachel raised her hand, he gave her an application.
After a family trip to watch Dixie State College play for the NJCAA National Championship in the Rotary Bowl against Butler Junior College, the Soi family expressed new concerns about their sons playin for a junior college.
Initially, the plan was for Brian to spend two years at Dixie then transfer over to BYU. “It’s going to be hard for him,” Pona Soi said. “One, I don’t think he will get the 60 credits he needs to get his AA degree. We went to watch the Dixie bowl game and I met a Dixie football player from our ward back home in Hawaii. He’s finished at Dixie, but he still only has 36 credits. He’s not going to get his AA, but some colleges are asking for him now.”
Fearing the worst and anxious not to repeat their high school challenge, Brian, Justin and their parents came to a firm decision they feel is the best otpion left to him.
“He’s (Brian) doing OK now. He’s going to go to school at USU (Utah State University). It’s a full ride scholarship. He’s going to go there as a Prop 48 student. Everything is paid for by the federal grants he’s receiving. He’s signed all the papers and everything. For the whole year, he’s going to go to school and get 24 credits. He starts playing next year in 2005. BYU is not taking Prop 48 students anymore.”
She noted that Brian “doesn’t want to have anything to do with this anymore. He just wants to play football, go to school and get it over with.
“I know USU is not a big school, but they’ll be playing both BYU and Utah. They’re in the WAC now. The year Justin and Brian are going to be playing, they will open up the season with Texas, Alabama and they’ll be going to Hawaii. Brian told me, ‘Mom, my goal was to play at a Division I school. It didn’t work out and these people (USU) are going to help me by taking me as a Prop 48.’ The dorm is already set for him and they want to train him starting Monday morning.”
Despite a heartfelt battle and desire for her son to play at BYU, Pona shed some light on her feelings about her son making it to the next level.
“You know, it‘s not the school that makes you. Wherever he goes, people will know where Brian is playing at. I know he is going to do good. He‘s excited. He wants to get going and get into school so he can play. We talked to Brian and he said, “Mom, I want to go to USU. I know it’s not a well known school, but I’ll go there.’ He doesn’t want to have anything to do with this anymore.”
Utah State, she added, has also offered Justin a scholarship as well. “The USU coaches said they want Justin. They said they want Justin as a tight end. BYU has not contacted Justin or sent any letters for the last four or five months. They said they are not recruiting a tight end this year. I said, ‘OK, so Justin is going to go where his brother (Brian) goes. I think Isley (Filiaga, her brother’s son) is going to end up at USU, too,” she said.
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