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Tampa Bay Christian opts out of FHSAA

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Wed. May 1, 2013 | Joey Knight | Email

The Florida High School Athletic Association's five-month probe of Tampa Bay Christian's boys basketball program has come to a screeching halt. And the school itself applied the brakes.

By withdrawing from the FHSAA.

Tampa-based attorney Peter Hobson, who has represented the school during the investigation, said the mounting costs and distraction of the probe, coupled with the school's impending move to a yet-to-be disclosed new location, prompted the exit.

"This is just not a matter they needed on their plate right now," Hobson said Wednesday. "By withdrawing their membership, it terminates the investigation. They're no longer a member."

Hobson first confirmed to the Tampa Bay Times in mid-January that the FHSAA was investigating recruiting allegations against the Rams boys, who ultimately won the Class 2A, District 8 title and reached the second round of the state playoffs.

TBC, which has a long tradition of welcoming international students who enroll with proper visas, had at least four foreign-born players (two from Rwanda, two from the Bahamas) on this past season's roster. They stood 6-foot-1, 6-6, 6-8 and 6-9.

Roughly 2 1/2 months after the season ended, the probe lingered. Now, with the school's upcoming move, Hobson said TBC officials have encountered "a number of tasks and chores" that have taken priority over trying to clear the Rams' name on the court.

"The decision was also influenced by the length and cost of this ongoing investigation and the aggravation experienced by the school and the parents," Hobson said. "It was just seen as a better move to have the old school resign and let the new school settle in."

The school still will be called Tampa Bay Christian, and its educational process won't be interrupted, Hobson said. Whether it seeks to re-join the FHSAA in the future is unclear for now, he added.

According to the FHSAA handbook, a school that re-applies for membership to the FHSAA must pay a readmission fee, satisfy any outstanding obligations to the association and complete a two-year provisional period, during which it couldn't compete in the playoffs.
 

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