A football player used a booster’s personal business address as his home address to enroll at Land O’Lakes, according to documents released by the Florida High School Athletic Association on Thursday.
“Upon further review by the school, we determined that the address being used was at a local business, owned by football booster-parents,” school principal Ric Mellin wrote to the FHSAA in an email dated Feb. 10.
They then “switched an electric meter on the property” from the boosters’ name to the name of the player’s family and submitted it as proof of residency in August 2010, according to the letter.
The boosters’ names are redacted, as are the names of the football player and his younger sister, a JV volleyball player. Both were ruled ineligible for a violation of FHSAA rules.
The letter also assigns blame to former coach Matt Kitchie, who was let go after the 2010 season for a separate incident.
Kitchie had known one of the player’s parents from their days coaching together in Kentucky. The player was unhappy at his school in Hillsborough County, and his father and Kitchie “talked about how to orchestrate (getting) the documents needed that would allow (name redacted) to enroll at LOLHS,” the letter said.
Kitchie told the boosters that he needed a utility bill from Land O’Lakes’ zone to enroll a child at the school. The booster “was hesitant, but complied because he did not want to fall out of favor with his son’s coach,” according to the document.
The school noted that Kitchie was fired in December 2010 but not because of this violation.
“Although the reasons for this are not directly tied to this situation, it did have to do with negligence on his part,” Mellin wrote.
The violations came to light after a concerned parent called the school on Feb. 3, according to the document. The school called the student’s parents, who admitted to enrolling their son and eventually his younger sister with a false address.
The school alerted the FHSAA on Friday. Three days later, the FHSAA sent a letter to the school announcing that the Gators must forfeit all 23 football games from the past two years because the player participated in them. The school must also forfeit five weightlifting contests and 16 JV volleyball games from the 2011-12 school year, pay a fine of $3,200 and be placed on probation until June 2013. Both players involved are no longer enrolled at Land O'Lakes.
Land O’Lakes can appeal the penalties.
Mellin wrote to the FHSAA that the school is changing its enrollment procedure after the violation. Land O’Lakes will require an additional form and a valid driver’s license with a residential address in the school’s zone for future enrollment.