Posted: 7:39 pm Thursday, March 26th, 2009
By Jason Lieser
After two days of silence, Boca Raton athletic director Bill Massey acknowledged that his school asked football coach Eddie Giersbrook to resign, but offered no explanation for the move.
Massey said he had nothing to add to what the Post has already printed, essentially confirming Tuesday’s initial report, and called it simply a “personnel issue” and declined to specify beyond that.
He also said the school has not dismissed any of the program’s assistant coaches, including quarterbacks coach Eric Davis. Davis is one of the more prominent and frequently mentioned names in documents the Florida High School Athletic Association currently is reviewing as part of its investigation into the transfer of quarterback Eddie Sullivan from Park Vista to Boca Raton.
“We think we have a good assistant staff,” Massey said.
Giersbrook’s involvement in the Sullivan situation is one of the factors behind Boca Raton’s decision to replace him, a source with the school said. It is increasingly looking like that is the biggest reason, and if there really was wrongdoing, it is difficult to believe Giersbrook is the only guilty party.
One potential benefit to keeping the rest of the staff intact, for now at least, is it could help keep cohesion among the players as interim coach Larry Green assumes control of the program. Massey doubts rumors of a possible player/parent revolt, and there is a long time for wounds to heal before the Bobcats begin spring practices on May 4.
“I heard something about it, but all the assistant coaches are coming back and I believe the kids will too,” Massey said.
Green is expected to coach the team through spring football while the school conducts a broad coaching search. Massey said he already has “numerous” applicants and will continue to field them until mid-April. It should be one of the more attractive openings in the state though Massey does not plan on naming a new coach in time for spring sessions.
As for the Sullivan investigation, the initial discovery phase is finished and the case is in line to be reviewed shortly. A ruling is expected next month. A source with the FHSAA said reasonable penalties for the violations in question could include a fine, player ineligibility, forfeiture of past victories and a post-season ban. One the verdict is announced, the school has 10 business days to appeal if it desired to do so.
For a recent example of a school that was caught violating FHSAA recruiting rules, Nease High School was fined $20,000, the entire athletic department was put on probation for five years and the football program received the following additional penalties for the ensuing six seasons: no spring game, no pre-season exhibition game or jamboree, no out-of-state games and no televised regular season games. It is worth noting that Nease already was on probation for violations in its baseball program.
This process, especially when it comes to recruiting, is both strict and subjective at the same time. The FHSAA needs to have evidence firm enough to hold up in court — although it’s rare, someone could very well sue the association if they feel the ruling was unfair or incorrect — but it also allows schools to lessen the penalty if they take proactive measures, which it appears Boca Raton did this week.
Massey declined to comment on the investigation. He has worked in the county’s school district for nearly 30 years and is on the FHSAA’s athletic directors advisory committee.