Full text: FHSAA letter to Armwood - FOX 13 News

Full text: FHSAA letter to Armwood

Posted: Updated:

June 19, 2012
 
Mr. Michael Ippolito, Principal
Blanche Armwood Senior High School
12000 US Highway 92
Seffner, Florida 33584
 
Dear Mr. Ippolito:
 
Subject:  FHSAA's Investigation of Armwood High's Football Program
 
This communication addresses the Florida High School Athletic Association's (herein referred to as FHSAA) findings as related to the current investigation of Armwood High School's football program (herein referred to as AHS).
 
All items contained in this correspondence are governed by the 2010-11 and 2011-12 FHSAA Handbook.  
 
Please review the following information in its entirety for appropriate response to the FHSAA Office.
 
The following information is organized as follows:
 
I. Background Summary
II. Pertinent Statute(s), Bylaws and Policies
III. Violations / School Response / FHSAA Action
IV. Summary of Penalties / Additional Penalties
V. FHSAA Recommendations
VI. Due Process
 
I. Background Summary

The FHSAA authorized an investigative consultant to review the eligibility status of players participating in AHS' football program during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 school year.  This review also addressed potential improprieties committed by any representatives of the school's athletic program as defined in FHSAA Bylaws and Policies.  
 
As a result of the investigation, this office determined individual students participated while ineligible.  This communication addresses "FHSAA Actions" taken as a result of the students' participation in interscholastic contests while ineligible, recommended corrective actions and sanctions and/or penalties assessed as a result of violations listed herein.  
 
II. Pertinent Statute(s), Bylaws, and Policies

The FHSAA Bylaws and Policies relative to this investigation include Bylaw and Policy references for 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years.  The following lists, at a minimum, applicable statute(s), bylaws, and policies:
 
Florida Statutes §837.06 provides that whoever knowingly makes a false statement in writing with the intent to mislead a  public servant in the performance of his official duty shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree.  Additionally a person who knowingly makes a false declaration under penalties of perjury is guilty of the crime of perjury by false written  declaration, a felony of the third degree.
 
2010-11 FHSAA Handbook
10.5.3 Complete and Accurate Submissions. The person or entity making the appeal must ensure that the information submitted to support such appeal or request is complete and accurate. In the event a decision by the Sectional Appeals Committee or the Board of Directors was made based on incomplete or inaccurate information, the decision shall be withdrawn and the sanctions provided by these bylaws shall apply.
 
2011-12 FHSAA Handbook
1.4.18 Representative of a School's Athletic Interests - "Representative of a school's athletic interests" refers to any independent person, business, organization or group that participates in, assists with and/or promotes that school's interscholastic athletic program. This includes:
(a) A student-athlete or other student participant in the athletic program, such as a team manager, student trainer, etc., at that school;
(b) The parents, guardians or other family members of a student-athlete or other student participant in the athletic program at that school;
(c) Relatives of a coach or other member of the athletic department staff at that school;
(d) A volunteer worker in that school or that school's athletic program;
(e) An athletic booster organization of that school;
(f) A member of an athletic booster organization of that school;
(g) A person, business, organization or group that makes financial or in-kind contributions to the athletic department or to an athletic booster organization of that school; and
(h) Any other person, business, organization or group that is otherwise involved in promoting the school's interscholastic athletic program.
2.5 ADMINISTRATIVE CONTROL AND RESPONSIBILITY
Each school must control its interscholastic athletic programs by FHSAA rules and regulations. The principal, who is responsible for the administration of all aspects of the school's interscholastic athletic programs, is responsible for ensuring this control, which extends to and includes responsibility for and control over the actions of:
(a) The administration and faculty;
(b) The athletic department staff and student-athletes;
(c) The student body, parents and other spectators at athletic events; and
(d) Any other individual or group engaged in activities representing, supporting or promoting the athletic interests of the school.
3.5.1 Administrative Control (Duties and Authority of the Principal). A member school must control its interscholastic athletic programs in accordance with the regulations of the Association. Responsibility for this control rests with the principal, who is responsible for the administration of all aspects of the school's interscholastic athletic programs.
3.5.2 Compliance with Rules. A member school must comply with all bylaws and other rules of the Association. The school must monitor its athletic programs to assure compliance with all bylaws and regulations, must identify and report to the FHSAA Office instances in which compliance has not been achieved, and must take appropriate corrective actions regarding such instances of noncompliance. Staff members, student-athletes and other individuals and groups representing, supporting or promoting the school's athletic interests must comply with applicable bylaws and rules. The school is responsible for such compliance.
 
3.5.2.1 Eligibility of Student-Athletes. A member school must certify the eligibility of all student-athletes. The school must not permit a student-athlete to participate in interscholastic competition unless the student-athlete meets all eligibility requirements.
3.5.2.2 Cooperation with Association. A member school must fully cooperate in the investigation of any alleged violation of the bylaws or other rules of the Association. A school that refuses to permit the interview of any individual, to grant access to and inspection of pertinent records, to submit relevant information to the Association upon request, or otherwise interferes with or obstructs the investigation, will be in violation of this provision.
3.5.4 Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct. A member school must establish policies that promote sportsmanship and ethical conduct in its interscholastic athletic programs. These policies must require student-athletes, coaches and all other individuals associated with the school's interscholastic athletic programs to adhere to such fundamental values as respect, fairness, civility, honesty and responsibility. The school must educate, on a continuing basis, all staff members, student-athletes, student body, and other individuals and groups representing, supporting or promoting the school's athletic interests about these policies.
6.2.1 Eligibility Reports. The principal or designee must annually submit all eligibility reports electronically and sign all eligibility correspondence.
6.3.1 General Principle (Recruiting). Recruitment or attempted recruitment of students for athletic purposes is an act of unsportsmanlike conduct and is expressly forbidden.
6.3.2 Definition of Recruiting. Recruiting is the use of undue influence or special inducement by anyone associated with the school in an attempt to encourage a prospective student to attend or remain at that school for the purpose of participating in interscholastic athletics.
6.3.3 Liability for Recruitment. A member school is responsible for any violation of this bylaw and/or the recruiting policies committed by any person associated with the school, including the principal, assistant principals, athletic director, coaches, teachers, any other staff members or employees, students, parents, or any organizations having connection to the school, such as booster clubs. The member school is also responsible for a violation committed by any third party under the direction of the school or anyone associated with it.
9.1.2.2 Falsification of Information. A student who falsifies information to gain eligibility shall be declared ineligible to represent any member school for a period of one year from the date of discovery.
9.2.1 Student May Only Participate at School He/She First Attends Each School Year. A student must attend school, and may participate only in the interscholastic athletic programs sponsored by the school he/she first attends each school year, which is either: (s.1006.20(2)(a), Florida Statutes)
(a) The school where the student first attends classes; or
(b) The school where the student first participates in an athletic activities on or after the official start date of that sport season before he/she attends classes at any school.  
9.3.2 Transfer Student Not Eligible Until the Following School Year. A student who transfers from one school to another will not be eligible at the new school until the beginning of the next school year, unless the student qualifies under one of the following five exceptions:  
9.3.2.1 Exception - Full and Complete Move to New Residence. A student who moves to a new home address due to a full and complete move by the student and the persons with whom he/she has been living for at least one calendar year that makes it necessary for the student to attend a different school and meets all other eligibility requirements as provided in Article 9 will be eligible subject to Bylaw 9.3.3. A student and his/her parents cannot occupy a residence at more than one address, and only the student's current residence may be used for eligibility purposes.  
9.3.2.1.1 Full and Complete Move Defined. The following items are evidence a move is full and complete:
(a) The former residence is not occupied for any purpose at any time by the student or any of the persons with whom the student has been living; and
(b) All personal belongings are moved from the former residence; and
(c) Mail is received at the new residence; and
(d) All utilities are transferred to the new residence; and  
(e) Driver's license, voter registration and other forms of legal identification are changed to the new residence.
 
9.3.3.2 Transfer Student's Former School Must Verify Eligibility Status Upon Request. The member school formerly attended by a transfer student must verify the student's eligibility status if requested to do so by the student's new school.
9.3.3.3 Transfer Student Not Eligible for One Full Semester if Transcript Cannot be Obtained. A transfer student whose former school cannot or will not provide an official sealed transcript will not be eligible in the new school until he/she has been in attendance for one full semester and has established a cumulative GPA. The school must submit a written report to the FHSAA Office that includes the student's name, date of first attendance in the school, and the beginning and ending dates of the previous semester.
10.2.1 General Principle (Forfeiture of Contest). If an ineligible student is inadvertently or intentionally permitted to participate in an interscholastic athletic contest, forfeiture of the game and honors shall be automatic and mandatory.
10.3.1 Protesting Actions of Another School. Any member school filing a protest over the eligibility of a student or the actions of a member school shall submit to the Executive Director in writing a full statement of the facts signed by the principal. The Executive Director shall provide the accused party or parties with a copy of the accusation and determine if the allegations warrant an investigation.
10.5.3 Complete and Accurate Submissions. The person or entity making the appeal must ensure that the information submitted to support such appeal or request is complete and accurate. In the event a decision by the Sectional Appeals Committee or the Board of Directors was made based on incomplete or inaccurate information, the decision shall be withdrawn and the sanctions provided by these bylaws shall apply.
POLICY 4 INTERSCHOLASTIC CONTESTS
4.2.2 Elimination is Final. Elimination from a FHSAA State Series competition of individuals or teams is final. Defeat by individuals or teams that are later ordered to forfeit their victory, place and/or points, or are vacated from the bracket, will not bring about reinstatement or advancement in the FHSAA State Series competition on the part of the individual or team that has been eliminated.
POLICY 18 PRACTICES AND SCRIMMAGES  
18.1 General Practices  
18.1.1 Only those student-athletes who are attending a member school, or who are either home education program or charter school program students registered with a member school, may participate in the practice of an athletic team which represents that member school.  
18.1.4 Violation of this policy could result in a monetary penalty of a minimum of $250 per occurrence.
Policy 36 ATHLETIC RECRUITING
36.2.2 Improper Contact. "Improper contact" is contact, either directly or indirectly, whether in person or through written or electronic communication, by a school employee, athletic department staff member, representative of the school's athletic interests or third parties, such as an independent person, business or organization, with a student or any member of the student's family, in an effort to pressure, urge or entice the student to attend a different school for the purpose of participating in interscholastic athletics.
36.2.3 Impermissible Benefit. An "impermissible benefit" is any arrangement, assistance or benefit that is not offered or generally made available to all students and/or their families who apply to or attend a school, or that otherwise is prohibited by FHSAA rules. Receipt of a benefit by a student-athlete or his/her family is not a violation of FHSAA rules if it is demonstrated that the same benefit is generally available to the school's students or family members and is not based in any way on athletic interest, potential or performance.
36.3.3 Contact Initiated by Prospective Student. When a school employee, athletic department staff member or representative of a school's athletic interests is contacted by a student who does not attend that school and/or any other member of his/her family, about the school's interscholastic athletic program or attending the school, the school employee, athletic department staff member or representative of the school's athletic interests must immediately refer the student and/or his/her family member to the appropriate school personnel who have the responsibility of registering and admitting prospective students.
36.4 IMPERMISSIBLE BENEFIT
36.4.1 General Regulation. No school employee, athletic department staff member, representative of the school's athletic interests or third parties, such as an independent person, business or organization, may be involved, directly or indirectly, in promising, offering or giving an impermissible benefit to any student or any member of his/her family for the purpose of participating in interscholastic athletics, or to any student-athlete  who already attends a school.
36.4.2 Specific Prohibitions. Specifically prohibited arrangements, assistance or benefits include, but are not limited to, the following:
36.4.2.2 Cash or like items, such as credit cards, debit cards, gift cards, gift certificates, coupons or vouchers.
36.4.2.3 Gift of clothing, equipment, merchandise or other tangible items.
36.4.2.4 Loans or assistance in securing a loan of any kind.
36.4.2.5 Payment for any work or service that is not performed or that is in excess of the amount normally paid for such work or service.
36.4.2.6 Free or reduced-cost transportation.
36.4.2.7 Living on a full- or part-time basis, regardless of whether rent is paid, with any school employee, athletic department staff member, representative of the school's athletic interests or other individual(s) who are not the student's parent(s) or legal guardian(s) duly appointed by a court of competent jurisdiction.
36.4.2.8 Free or reduced-cost rent for housing, vehicles or other items.
36.4.2.9 Full or partial payment of moving expenses or assistance of any kind with an actual physical move.
36.4.2.10 Employment or assistance in securing employment or contractual arrangement of any kind for which compensation may be paid.
36.4.2.11 Promise of a position on an interscholastic athletic team or playing time as a member of the team.
36.4.2.12 Promise of guaranteeing a college athletic scholarship.
36.4.2.13 Free or reduced costs to attend a sport or skills camp.
36.4.2.14 Any other form of arrangement, assistance or benefit that is not generally available to other students in the school or their families or that is based in any way on athletic ability.
36.7 COMPLIANCE DOCUMENTS
36.7.1 Certification of Compliance Form. Each member school each year must submit to the FHSAA Office, utilizing the official Association process as approved by the Executive Director, certifying that the principal, the athletic director and the president of each athletic booster organization of the school have reviewed the "FHSAA Policy on Athletic Recruiting," and that he/she will comply with all provisions of the policy, and will review the provisions of the policy with school employees, athletic department staff members and  representatives of the school's athletic interests. The head coach in each varsity sport offered by the school shall, utilizing the official Association process as approved by the Executive Director, certify that he/she has reviewed the "FHSAA Policy on Athletic Recruiting," will comply with all provisions of the policy and will review the provisions of the policy with his/her coaching staff and players electronically in a process facilitated by the FHSAA. Failure to comply will subject the school to minimum monetary penalty of $100.
 
III. Violations / School Response / FHSAA Action
 
The following section identifies the violations determined as a result of the investigative process.  AHS was allowed to respond to the noted violations and FHSAA Action is listed respectively. AHS was allowed to respond to each potential violation in writing, separately, and indicate AHS' position as follows:
 
—Agree a violation occurred. For violations which AHS agrees occurred, please report any corrective actions taken to ensure a violation of this nature does not re-occur.  

—Disagree and consider a violation did not occur (supporting documentation must be presented). 

Agree some form of violation occurred but not as described in herein (supporting documentation must be presented). 
 
 
____________ (student)
 
NOTE: In accordance with Bylaw 9.1.2.2, this office determined the date of discovery to be January 26, 2012.  
 
NOTE: AHS reported this student participated in sixteen (16) contests while ineligible: 2010-11 spring football contest and fifteen contests during the 2011-12 school year.  
 
Violation #1:  Student participated during the 2010-11 school year while ineligible (reference Bylaw 9.1.2.2).   
School Response:
 
FHSAA Action #1:  AHS shall forfeit its 2010-11 spring football contest as a result of the aforementioned student's participation.  
 
Violation #2:  Student falsified information to gain athletic eligibility (reference Bylaw 9.1.2.2) during the 2011-12 school year.  This falsified information includes but is not limited to: forging signatures on official documents (F.S. 837.06), and providing inaccurate information regarding rental payments
School Response:
 
FHSAA Action #1:  AHS shall forfeit all contests in which the aforementioned student participated during the 2011-12 school year.   
 
Violation #3:  Student participated during the 2011-12 school year while ineligible (reference Bylaws 9.1.2.2 and 10.5.3.).  
School Response:
 
FHSAA Action #1:  AHS shall forfeit all contests in which the aforementioned student participated during the 2011-12 school year.   
 
Violation #4:  Student received impermissible benefit through living arrangement (reference Policy 36.4.2.7).
School Response:
 
FHSAA Action #1:  AHS shall forfeit all contests in which the aforementioned student participated during the 2011-12 school year.   
 
FHSAA Action #2:  In accordance with B.1.4.18 and P.36, AHS is fined in the amount of $2,500 for violations committed by representatives of the school's athletic interests.  However, because no AHS employee or volunteer has been identified as a party to this violation, this fine is held in abeyance, provided no other violation of Bylaw 10 and Policy 36 is committed for the duration of the probationary period outlined in this communication.
 
 
____________ (student)
 
NOTE: In accordance with Bylaw 9.1.2.2, this office determined the date of discovery to be January 26, 2012.  
 
NOTE: AHS reported this student participated in fifteen (15) football contests while ineligible during the 2011-12 school year.
 
Violation #5:  Student participated during the 2010-11 school year while ineligible (reference Bylaw 9.1.2.2).
School Response:
 
FHSAA Action #1:  This response is accepted with no further action regarding the alleged violation.   
 
Violation #6:  Student falsified information to gain athletic eligibility (reference Bylaws 9.1.2.2 and 9.3.2.1.1).   
School Response:
 
FHSAA Action #1:  AHS shall forfeit all contests in which the aforementioned student participated during the 2011-12 school year.   
 
Violation #7:  Student participated during the 2011-12 school year while ineligible (reference Bylaw 9.1.2.2).  
School Response:
 
FHSAA Action #1:  AHS shall forfeit all contests in which the aforementioned student participated during the 2011-12 school year.   
 
Violation #8:  Student received impermissible benefit through living arrangement (reference Policy 36.4.2.7).
School Response:
 
FHSAA Action #1:  AHS shall forfeit all contests in which the aforementioned student participated during the 2011-12 school year.   
 
FHSAA Action #2:  In accordance with B.1.4.18 and P.36, AHS is fined in the amount of $2,500 for violations committed by representatives of the school's athletic interests.  However, because no AHS employee or volunteer has been identified as a party to this violation, this fine is held in abeyance, provided no other violation of Bylaw 10 and Policy 36 is committed for the duration of the probationary period outlined in this communication.
 
 
___________ (student)
 
NOTE: In accordance with Bylaw 9.1.2.2, this office determined the date of discovery to be November 16, 2011.
 
 
NOTE:  AHS reported this student participated in sixteen (16) contests while ineligible: 2010-11 spring football contest and fifteen contests during the 2011-12 school year.
 
NOTE:  This office acknowledges communications received from the aforementioned student's parent(s) as a result of the investigation preliminary findings.  
 
Violation #9:  Student participated during the 2010-11 school year while ineligible (reference Bylaw 9.1.2.2 and 9.3.3).   
School Response:
 
FHSAA Action #1:  AHS shall forfeit its spring football contest in which the aforementioned student participated during the 2010-11school year.   
 
Violation #10:  Student participated during the 2011-12 school year while ineligible (reference Bylaw 9.1.2.2).  
School Response:
 
FHSAA Action #1:  AHS shall forfeit all contests in which the aforementioned student participated during the 2011-12 school year.   
 
Violation #11:  Student falsified information to gain athletic eligibility (reference Bylaw 9.1.2.2).  This includes information provided in response to FHSAA's investigative consultant.  
School Response:
 
FHSAA Action #1:  AHS shall forfeit all contests in which the aforementioned student participated during the 2011-12 school year.   
 
 
___________ (student)
 
NOTE: In accordance with Bylaw 9.1.2.2, this office determined the date of discovery to be January 26, 2012.  
 
NOTE: AHS reported this student participated in fifteen (15) contests while ineligible during the 2011-12 school year.
 
Violation #12:  Student participated during the 2010-11 school year while ineligible (reference Bylaw 9.1.2.2).
School Response:
 
FHSAA Action #1:  This response is accepted with no further action regarding the alleged violation.  
 
Violation #13:  Student falsified information to gain athletic eligibility during the 2011-12 school year (reference Bylaw 9.1.2.2).
School Response:
 
FHSAA Action #1:  AHS shall forfeit all contests in which the aforementioned student participated during the 2011-12 school year.   
 
Violation #14:  Student participated during the 2011-12 school year while ineligible (reference Bylaw 9.1.2.2).
School Response:
 
FHSAA Action #1:  AHS shall forfeit all contests in which the aforementioned student participated during the 2011-12 school year.   
 
 
____________ (student)
NOTE: In accordance with Bylaw 9.1.2.2, this office determined the date of discovery to be January 26, 2012.  
 
NOTE: This student participated in eleven (11) football contests during the 2010-11 school year, while ineligible.
 
Violation #15:  Student participated in football contests during the 2010-11 school year while ineligible while ineligible (reference bylaw 9.3.2.1.1 and bylaw 9.1.2.2).
School Response:
 
It is agreed that the student athlete participated during the 2010-2011 school year, based on Bylaw 9.1.2.2. During the 2010-2011 school year, _________ participated in 11 contest representing Armwood High School, this is including the 2010-2011 spring football game. However he did not participate until he was granted eligibility by the FHSAA Section 3 Appeals Committee.  
 
FHSAA Action #1:  AHS shall forfeit all contests in which the  aforementioned student participated during the 2010-11 school year, inclusive of its 2011 spring football contest.
 
Violation #16:  Student, parent, and/or representative presented inaccurate, fraudulent information to Section 3 Appeals Committee to during the 2010-11 school year (reference Bylaw 10.5.3).
School Response:
 
It is agreed that the parent and/or student's representative presented inaccurate, fraudulent information to the FHSAA Section 3 Appeals Committee to gain athletic eligibility for the 2010-2011 school year. 
 
FHSAA Action #1:  AHS shall forfeit all contests in which the aforementioned student participated during the 2010-11 school year.   
 
Violation #17:  Student falsified information to gain athletic eligibility during the 2010-11 school year (reference Bylaw 9.1.2.2.)
School Response:
 
FHSAA Action #1:  AHS shall forfeit all contests in which the aforementioned student participated during the 2010-11 school year.   
 
 
AHS Staff
 
Violation #18:  AHS head coaching staff failed to review the FHSAA Recruiting Policy with its staff.
School Response:
 
FHSAA Action:  This response is accepted with no further action regarding this alleged violation. However, this office reserves the right to reconsider this position in the event creditable, contradicting information is received within thirty days of the date listed on this communication.
 
NOTE:  Please reference the recommendation(s) section of this communication relative to this alleged violation.  
 
Representative of School's Athletic Interests (Bylaw 1.4.18)
 
Violation #19:  Two representatives of AHS athletic interests participated in falsifying information to assist a student in attending Armwood High School.
School Response:
 
FHSAA Action #1:  In accordance with B.1.4.18 and P.36, AHS is fined in the amount of $2,500 for violations committed by representatives of the school's athletic interests.  However, because no AHS employee or volunteer has been identified as a party to this violation, this fine is held in abeyance, provided no other violation of Bylaw 10 and Policy 36 is committed for the duration of the probationary period outlined in this communication.
 
IV. Summary of Penalties
 
FHSAA Sanction #1: AHS shall forfeit contests in which the aforementioned student participated during the 2010-11 school year.  The principal shall notify the Executive Director the dates of the competition and provide copies of the letters of forfeiture to the opposing school(s) the students participated against. AHS shall return all team trophies (state series) earned as a result of the aforementioned student's participation to the FHSAA Office. Elimination from a FHSAA State Series competition of individuals or teams is final. Defeat by individuals or teams that are later ordered to forfeit their victory, place and/or points, or are vacated from the bracket, will not bring about reinstatement or advancement in the FHSAA State Series competition on the part of the individual or team that has been eliminated.
 
FHSAA Sanction #2: AHS shall forfeit contests in which the aforementioned students participated during the 2011-12 school year.  The principal shall notify the Executive Director the dates of the competition and provide copies of the letters of forfeiture to the opposing school(s) the students participated against. AHS shall return all team trophies (state series) earned as a result of the aforementioned student's participation to the FHSAA Office. Elimination from a FHSAA State Series competition of individuals or teams is final. Defeat by individuals or teams that are later ordered to forfeit their victory, place and/or points, or are vacated from the bracket, will not bring about reinstatement or advancement in the FHSAA State Series competition on the part of the individual or team that has been eliminated.
 
FHSAA Sanction #3:  AHS football program is placed on Administrative Probation for three years, concluding June 30, 2015.  In accordance with Bylaw 10.1.1.(d).1, "The school is reprimanded, fined and served notice that it is in a period of warning for a minimum of one calendar year. Additional violations during this time will result in increased penalties which may include expulsion.
 
FHSAA Sanction #4:  AHS football program is reprimanded.  An official letter of censure to the concerned party in regard to the offense committed which warns against further violations. This letter will be kept on file for future reference.
 
FHSAA Sanction #5:  AHS shall have a minimum of three individuals to attend the 2012 Compliance Seminar to include, principal, assistant principal for athletics/athletic director, AND head football coach, at the school's expense. Contact Mr. Seth Polansky, FHSAA Director of Membership Services for registration information. Failure to attend will result in additional sanctions.
 
Financial assessment summary.
 
FHSAA Sanction #6:  AHS shall remit payment in the amount of $6,543.46 for reimbursement of investigative costs accrued in accordance with Policy 9.13.1.  9.13 Invoices Charged to Member Schools' Accounts 9.13.1 Invoices. Invoices charged to the school's account with the FHSAA are due and payable within 30 days of the invoice date. The only exception to this rule is the annual membership dues invoice payment that must be postmarked no later than September 30 of each year.   
 
FHSAA Sanction #7:  AHS is fined in the amount of $6,200 for allowing ineligible players to participate in interscholastic contests.  NOTE: In accordance with Policy 41, the financial penalty for allowing ineligible players to participate in interscholastic contests is $2,500 per student, per contest; this totals $195,000.  However, this office has assessed the financial penalty consistent with that of $100 per student, per contest as a result of the school's cooperation with the investigative process (reference B.3.5.2.2).
 
AHS shall remit payment in the amount of $12, 743.46.   
· $6,543.46 due within thirty (30) days in accordance with Policy 9.
· $6,200 may be submitted in a minimum of two, equal installments: 1)  Half due October 15, 2012; and 2)  Balance will be due February 15, 2013.)   

Please feel free to contact this office for alternate arrangements if necessary.  
 
V. FHSAA Recommendations

The following is a list of "recommendations" made by this office to assist Hillsborough County School District and/or AHS with respect to maintaining compliance with FHSAA Bylaws and Policies.  
 
Recommendation #1:  AHS institute a process that requires ALL coaches, head coaches, assistant coaches, paid/volunteer, to verify, in writing, each coach reviewed the Association's Policy on Recruiting (reference 2011-12 FHSAA Policy 36).
 
Recommendation #2:  Hillsborough County Public Schools consider creating/instituting a district level position to monitor athletic eligibility and compliance for all Hillsborough County Public High Schools.  
 
Recommendation #3:  AHS and/or Hillsborough County Public Schools require a minimum of three proofs of residence for students attending AHS AND in accordance with  FHSAA Policy are required to complete a GA4 to include:
1. Copy of mortgage/lease agreement for the residence (such mortgage or lease agreement must contain the student's legal guardian's name); and
2. Verification of two (2) utility agreements (cable, telephone, water, electric, etc. containing student's legal guardian's name and address).

Recommendation #4:  During probationary period, AHS institute a process that requires ALL parents/legal guardians/boosters of student-athletes to acknowledge they have reviewed the Association's Policy on Recruiting.  NOTE:  The Association's current GA4 requires students and parents to acknowledge reviewing the Association's Policy on Recruiting; however, this only applies to those students who entered AHS after having first entered ninth grade at another school.  It is important for AHS to impress upon the parents/legal guardians of its student-athletes that their actions may impact the school's athletic program (reference Bylaw 1.4.18 definition of Representative of School's Athletic Interest).
 
Recommendation #5:  FHSAA staff/investigative consultant to conduct an audit/review of AHS athletic program prior to June 1, 2015.  NOTE:  The Association reserves the right to conduct an investigation of AHS' athletic program during the probationary period in the event creditable information is received necessitating such an investigation.
 
Recommendation #6:  Hillsborough County Public Schools staff or AHS administrative staff conduct a site visit to verify residence for any student-athlete enrolling in or attending AHS, using a Douglas Oak Circle, Tampa, Florida address (currently known as Sanctuary at Highland Oaks).   
 
Recommendation #7:  During the probationary period, AHS principal and/or athletic director to verify via email to the FHSAA Executive Director each student-athlete's eligibility for fall and spring football of each year.
 
VI. Due Process

The FHSAA has accepted the responses provided by Armwood High School.  We reserve the right to reconsider the aforementioned actions in the event additional, substantial information is received within thirty days of the date of this communication. 
 
The decision by this office may be appealed to the FHSAA Infraction Appeals Committee as directed under Bylaws 10.4.6, 10.5.7 and 10.6.4 - Appeals of Executive Director's Findings (pages 35 & 37 of the 2011-12 FHSAA Handbook).  The principal of a member school or his/her designee, or any other individual, who is found to be in violation of the rules of this Association by the Executive Director, whether or not such finding results in the imposition of penalty, may appeal the finding of the Executive Director if he/she takes issue with it, or may appeal the penalty imposed, if any, if he/she, while not disagreeing with the finding, believes the penalty to be too severe.  To appeal the finding of the Executive Director, the appeal must be filed so that it is received in the office of the Association by July 9, 2012.  Failure to file an appeal so that it is received in the office of this Association by the aforementioned deadline shall be deemed a waiver of the right to appeal as granted herein.
 
Appeals of major violations will be heard by the Infraction Appeals Committee.  Decisions by the Infraction Appeals Committee can be appealed to the Board of Directors.  Decisions by the Board of Directors will be final.  
 
If you have any questions regarding this communication, please feel free to contact me at extension 240.
 
Sincerely,  
 
Roger Dearing, Ed.D.
Executive Director
 
RD:dt
 
Cc: 

M. Denarvise Thornton, Jr., Associate Executive Director
Peggy Jones, Associate Executive Director
Justin Harrison, Assistant Executive Director
Seth Polansky, Director of Membership Services
MaryEllen Elia, Superintendent, Hillsborough County Public Schools
Lanness Robinson, Athletic Director, Hillsborough County Public Schools
Filing an Appeal to the
FHSAA Infractions Appeals Committee
 
Your school has been found to have committed one or more major violations of FHSAA rules and may have been assessed penalties as a result of the finding.  Bylaw Article 10 Compliance and Enforcement guarantees your school the right to appeal this finding and/or the penalties imposed.  This document has been prepared to explain to you the process for filing your appeal.  Please read it carefully.  Contact Associate Executive Director Denarvise Thornton in the FHSAA Office by email at dthornton@fhsaa.org or by phone at (352) 372-9551 ext. 340 with any questions you have.
 
1.   ON WHAT GROUNDS CAN WE APPEAL FINDINGS OF VIOLATIONS?
 
You may appeal any finding on anyone or more of the following three bases:
 
(a)  The finding is clearly contrary to the evidence presented to the Executive Director. This means that in your opinion a reasonable person who is knowledgeable of the rules and who is presented with this same evidence would not reach a similar conclusion.
 
(b)  The facts found do not constitute a violation of FHSAA rules. This means that you are not disputing that your school committed the acts in question, but you are contending that the acts themselves are not violations of any FHSAA rules.
 
(c)  A procedural error affected the reliability of the information that was used to support the finding. In this case you must demonstrate how you contend the procedure used was in error. This means that it is your opinion that the FHSAA staff did not thoroughly and completely investigate the allegations against your school and had it done so would have presented the Executive Director with evidence that would have led him to reach a different conclusion. To challenge a finding on this basis you must be able to specifically state what you believe the FHSAA staff should have done during its investigation, specifically what facts would have been discovered had it been done, and that you made an effort to bring this to the attention of the FHSAA staff during the course of the investigation.
 
2.  ON WHAT GROUNDS CAN WE APPEAL A PENALTY?
 
You may appeal any penalty on the basis that it is excessive or inappropriate based on all of the evidence and circumstances. An excessive penalty is a penalty that is more severe than has been imposed on other schools for similar violations under similar circumstances. An inappropriate penalty is a penalty that is not provided for in FHSAA rules.
 
3.  WHAT IS THE TIME FRAME FOR AN APPEAL?
 
(a)  Notice of Appeal. Enclosed with the letter containing your infractions report is a "Notice of Appeal" form. This form has been customized specifically for your case. You must use this form to notify the FHSAA office if you wish to appeal any of the findings and/or penalties contained in the letter. The form must be received in the FHSAA office within 10 business days of the date you confirmed receipt of the letter. The form may be faxed to 352.373.1528. Using the form, you must:
 
(1)  Check each finding that you wish to appeal, as well as which one or more of the three grounds you will base your appeal;
 
(2)  Check each penalty that you wish to appeal;
 
(3)  Check whether you want your appeal heard at an in-person hearing or considered solely on the basis of the written record.  If you choose the in-person hearing you must also provide the name(s) and title(s) of each person who will represent your school at the hearing; and
 
(4)  Provide the name and contact information for the individual who will be your school's primary contact for this appeal.
 
(b)  Written Appeal. Once you fax the Notice of Appeal form to the FHSAA office you will have an additional 10 days to prepare and submit your written appeal, including any documentation supporting your positions.
 
(c)  Infractions Appeals Committee Meeting. After receiving the appeal materials, the Infractions Appeals Committee chairperson, in consultation with the Executive Director, will schedule a date for your hearing. If you request an in-person hearing, you will be notified of the date, site and time for that hearing.  If you request an appeal based on the written record, you will be notified only of the date your appeal will be considered.  When the committee meets, it will consider your appeal and will issue a decision.
 
4.   WHAT WILL THE INFRACTIONS APPEALS COMMITTEE CONSIDER?
 
The Infractions Appeals Committee will consider the following information in making its decision:
 
(a)  The infractions report prepared by the FHSAA staff; the investigative report, including ail evidence upon which the findings of violations were based; and ail correspondence between the FHSAA staff and the school related to the
case;
 
(b)  Your Notice of Appeal and written appeal; and
 
(c)  The presentations made at the in-person hearing (if applicable).
 
5.   WILL THE INFRACTIONS APPEALS COMMITTEE CONSIDER ANY NEW EVIDENCE WE HAVE DEVELOPED?
 
No. The Infractions Appeals Committee will consider only the evidence that was available to the Executive Director when he issued his finding and imposed the penalty. You, therefore, must limit your arguments to refuting that evidence. The committee, however, may stay an appeal when new evidence is introduced and refer the case back to the FHSAA staff for review if the committee concludes that:
 
(a)  The new information was not available, and through the exercise of reasonable due diligence could not have been available, at the time the Executive Director issued his finding; and
 
(b)  The new information is demonstrably relevant to the Executive Director's findings.
 
6.   FORMAT FOR IN-PERSON HEARING.
 
(a) A twenty (20)- minute block will be allotted for each case involving an appearance.  

(b)  The Infractions Appeals Committee may ask questions of you. Once the committee has concluded it's questioning, the chair will entertain a motion. Once the motion is made and the committee begins its deliberations, you no longer will be permitted to address the committee.
 
(c)  The Infractions Appeals Committee will vote on the motion at the conclusion of its deliberations and render a decision.
 
7.   FORMAT FOR HEARING BASED ON WRITTEN RECORD.
 
(a)  The Infractions Appeals Committee will review and discuss the documentation presented.
 
(b)  The Infractions Appeals Committee will issue a report of its decision after it considers the appeal.
 
8.   APPEAL OF UNFAVORABLE DECISION BY INFRACTIONS APPEALS COMMITTEE.
 
If you receive an unfavorable decision from the Infractions Appeals Committee you may appeal that decision to the FHSAA Board of Directors at its next regularly scheduled meeting.
 
9. WHAT IS THE COST OF THE APPEAL?
 
According to FHSAA Bylaw 10.1.2, The cost of the appeal shall be borne by the appellant if the finding of the Executive Director or the penalty as imposed is upheld.  Other costs/expenses (1) Expenses for State Infractions Appeals Committee members to assemble in Gainesville (2) Staff expenses for compiling the material to be presented (3) other expenses to be determined by the Executive Director.  
 
NOTICE OF APPEAL
[Armwood High School]
 
If you intend to appeal any of the findings of violations and/or penalties imposed in the infractions report to your school, you must complete and fax (352.333.2105) this form to the FHSAA executive director by [July 9, 2012].
 
1. APPEAL OF FINDING OF FACT AND VIOLATION. You may appeal the findings of fact and violations on any of the following grounds:  [Select appropriate response(s)]
 
(a) The finding is clearly contrary to the evidence presented to the executive director;
(b) The facts found do not constitute a violation of FHSAA rules; or
(c) A procedural error affected the reliability of the information that was used to support the finding. In this case, you must demonstrate how you contend the procedure used was in error.  

 
2. APPEAL OF PENALTY. You may appeal a penalty imposed on the grounds that it is excessive  (E) or inappropriate (I) based on all the evidence and circumstances.   

 
Place an "X" beside the number of each specific Violation you intend to appeal.  Then place  
an "X" beside (a), (b) and/or (c) to indicate the basis or bases for your appeal of that  Violation. 
 
Place an "X" beside the number of each specific penalty (FHSAA Action) you intend to appeal. Please note that each penalty remains in effect pending the outcome of the appeal.
 
3.  CONSIDERATION OF APPEAL. You wish to have the FH5AA Infractions Appeals Committee consider your appeal (place an "X" beside one):
 
           at an in-person hearing; the following school representative(s) will attend (name and title):   
 
             
 
          based only on the written record.
 
4. POINT OF CONTACT FOR APPEAL. Provide the name, address, work phone number and fax number of the individual serving as the point of contact for this appeal.
 
Name         Title       
 
Address (street, route, PO Box)           
 
City          Zip Code     
 
Work Phone (     )     Fax ( ___)      
 
I have read and understand my school's rights and responsibilities as explained herein.
 
     /     Date   
Name of Principal    Signature of Principal
 
     /     Date   
Name of FH5AA Representative (if not principal)  Signature of FHSAA Representative

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