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The trio of Armwood football players suspended this season for allegedly falsifying enrollment information get a final crack at regaining their eligibility on Sunday.
Juniors Craig Carrington and Greg Newton and senior Gabe Nold — all of whom continue practicing with the Hawks — will appear with their attorney at the Florida High School Athletic Association's Board of Directors meeting Sunday afternoon in Gainesville.
Carrington and Newton, who played on Armwood's undefeated 2011 team, were among five members of that squad found by the FHSAA to have used false residence information to enroll at the school.
Nold, a former Wharton standout who moved to Seffner with his father earlier this year, was found by Armwood's administration to have provided false living-arrangement information and was ruled ineligible for the 2012 season by Principal Michael Ippolito.
All three brought their cases to an FHSAA sectional appeals committee in August, but were unanimously denied. Only Seffner Christian transfer Aaron Evans, initially ruled ineligible by Ippolito when he moved into a leased property with his disabled dad, won his appeal. He's starting at guard for Armwood (4-1).
The players' attorney, Peter Hobson, said he believes Evans' victorious case — the last heard by the appeals committee in August -- will set a precedent for the others this time around. He said he's particularly hopeful of Nold's case, which he called "nearly identical" to Evans'.
Like Evans, Nold's parents are separated. An honors student, he changed schools last winter to reside with his dad, who has a one-bedroom apartment near Armwood High. On Tuesday, Hobson said cell-phone records will fortify Nold's case that the move was legitimate.
"There's a difference between...a one-year suspension that Ippolito can mete out if he finds out falsified documents were submitted," Hobson said. "We argue in Nold's case none of those documents were falsified."
Hobson added that in at least two of the three cases he'll present Sunday, parents may have submitted insufficient or non-updated information, but never falsified anything.
He'll also seek clarification on FHSAA Bylaw 9.2.1, which says students are eligible for athletics at the school they attend on the first school day of the year. While arguing no false data was provided, Hobson will add all three of his clients were enrolled at Armwood on the first day of the 2012-13 year.