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Armwood's potential fine could hit five figures

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Tue. May 15, 2012 | Joey Knight | Email

Though he's only speculating at this point, the Florida High School Athletic Association's executive director said Tuesday that Armwood's monetary penalties for using five football players likely to be deemed ineligible could hit the five-figure mark.

Roger Dearing, who heads the state's high school sports governing body, said investigative costs alone could reach $10,000, with Armwood responsible for those costs. No word yet what punitive costs, if there are any, could be.

The FHSAA released its 44-page report into the Hawks' football program on Monday. Its preliminary findings determined that the families of five Hawks players falsified residence information to gain entry to the school.

Armwood has 10 business days to respond to those findings, and the FHSAA has 10 days after that to issue its final report, Dearing said.

Dearing said investigator Troy Pumphrey, a former Washington D.C. law-enforcement officer and current employee at Hillsborough High, hasn't yet submitted his bill to the FHSAA. Dr. Peggy Jones, FHSAA associate executive director for administrative services, said Pumphrey is an independent consultant with a contract who earns $250 a day.

In addition to Pumphrey’s fee, the FHSAA handbook calls for monetary penalties — ranging from $100 to $2,500 — for using ineligible players.

"However," Dearing said, "our rules state that in cases where falsification of information was utilized by the student-athlete or parent, the financial penalty is reduced significantly."

Last fall, Lakeland High had to pay nearly $5,100 in investigative costs after a lengthy FHSAA probe determined the Dreadnaughts football team had used two ineligible players in 2010. The school incurred no additional monetary punitive penalties.

Just who pays the fine is unclear. Hawks coach Sean Callahan said he doesn't know. In a text message to the Times, Hillsborough County athletic director Lanness Robinson said, "Each situation is different. There isn't a set funding source."

In the past, the FHSAA has set up payment plans for schools unable to pay the fines in one lump sum.

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