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A former high school football star convicted of firebombing a house plans to appeal a decision to keep him off the University of Utah football team this fall.

Sione Havili said he thought he would be allowed to join the Utes without a scholarship when practice begins next month. But when athletic director Chris Hill learned of the former all-state running back's criminal background, he told coach Ron McBride that Havili would not be playing for the Utes.

"This is a difficult decision," Hill said, "but I have decided that Sione's participation is not in the best interest of the university or the athletics department."

Havili, 22, planned to meet with the university's vice president for student affairs Tuesday to try to reverse the decision. He also said he wants to meet with university president Bernie Machen.

"It's a lot different than life used to be, three or four years ago," Havili said.

Havili signed a letter-of-intent with Brigham Young University in 1998 after a stellar career at East High School.

But he was called home from a Mormon church mission in 2000 to face charges that he and five other men threw plastic milk jugs full of gasoline into a Salt Lake City home 17 months earlier, in retaliation for an apparent gang-related drive-by shooting.

The home was destroyed, though nobody was inside at the time of the attack. Havili pleaded guilty to first-degree felony arson last year and served seven months in the county jail. He was released Dec. 12.

The Utes do have precedent for keeping felons off their athletic teams. The university made basketball coach Rick Majerus stop recruiting Richie Parker in 1995, after it learned the player had been convicted of felony sex abuse.
best of luck to this guy sense he has no more football
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