Posted: 3:50 pm Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009
By Jason Lieser
The Florida High School Athletic Association ruled today that the Pahokee football team forfeits its Sept. 25 win over Cardinal Newman due to an eligibility violation.
The Blue Devils self-reported the infraction, which occurred when a player who was not academically qualified played against Cardinal Newman on Sept. 25. The player, a junior who is no longer on the team, had his grade point average boosted from 1.8 to 2.1 because of an improper grade change in one class, Athletic Director Tom Mejia said.
The forfeit drops Pahokee’s district record from 5-0 to 4-1 in 7-2B. The Blue Devils can still win their district by beating Fort Lauderdale-University on Friday. If they lose, Pahokee would be eliminated from post-season contention if Coconut Creek-North Broward Prep also wins this week.
Pahokee was also fined and placed on probation. The fine was lessened because the school self-reported the violation.
The minimum penalty for the violation is $2,500 per player per contest, but the FHSAA lowered the fine to $100 in Pahokee’s case.
The FHSAA also placed the school on administrative probation until Sept. 25, 2010. FHSAA Executive Director Roger Dearing wrote in his letter to the school that this least severe form of probation he can enact.
“It’s as fair as it can be,” Mejia said of the FHSAA ruling. “It was an honest mistake.
“I’m definitely relieved and glad the FHSAA was understanding that there was a mistake made. I’m glad they took into consideration that, of course, we self-reported. We don’t want to hide anything from anybody.”
The player, a junior, is no longer on the team and did not dress for any other games, Mejia said Monday. In a letter to the FHSAA and Cardinal Newman Principal John Clarke, Pahokee Principal Ariel Alejo stated that the player only practiced the week leading up to the Cardinal Newman game and played in it, but did not participate in any form after Sept. 25.
The FHSAA’s letter to the school, however, indicates that the player participated in three contests. Interview requests for Dearing and Associate Executive Director Denarvise Thornton have not been returned.
The Blue Devils have won three straight Class 2B state championships and five in the past six years. They beat University 45-6 in the second round of last year’s playoffs and 62-0 to open the 2007 post-season.