Friday, February 23, 2018
Editorials

Hillsborough school superintendent does an end run

The agency that sanctions high school athletics in Florida painted a scandalous picture this week of how easily a group of ineligible student athletes were able to play on the winning football team at Hillsborough County's Armwood High School. But even worse was the reaction by superintendent MaryEllen Elia. She dumped the blame entirely on the parents — not on the school, the coaching staff or even "two representatives" of Armwood who were singled out in the report for helping to falsify a student's eligibility. Elia needs to hold her own staff to account. The schools' handling of this matter looks like incompetence at best and collusion at worst.

An investigation by the Florida High School Athletic Association found that five players on Armwood's 2011 state championship football team falsified residence information to make themselves eligible. The players used a range of deceits, from false hardship stories and bogus housing leases to fraudulent utility documents to win assignment in Armwood's school boundary.

The parents and their friends who concocted the schemes to put these players on the winning program indeed are responsible for the bulk of the blame. But the district was so accommodating it calls into question whether the county aggressively enforces the rules for fair play in high school athletics or looks the other way when it's convenient.

Red flags were everywhere. The father of one boy said he met with Armwood's football coach prior to his son enrolling. Coach Sean Callahan allegedly allowed another student from a different high school to practice with the Armwood team. A third student enrolled using an address for an apartment complex that was used by at least three recent transfers to the football team. Though principal Michael Ippolito blocked the third player from the team, citing concerns over his eligibility, he pushed off any immediate attempt to verify the student's residence. When an investigator for the sanctioning body asked an assistant coach to explain the problems, the coach demurred, saying he had not read much of the FHSAA's rule book during his three years on the job.

The sanctioning agency's bylaws make it abundantly clear that individual schools must ensure compliance with their interscholastic athletic programs — and that principals ultimately are responsible for "all aspects" of conduct by their coaches, staff, student athletes and athletic booster clubs. Elia may have had some problem parents, but she has larger problems on her home turf and she needs to fix them.

Comments
Editorial: The time to act on guns is now

Editorial: The time to act on guns is now

The nationís conversation on guns took an encouraging step this week in three essential places ó South Florida, Tallahassee and Washington ó as survivors, victimsí families and elected leaders searched painfully and sincerely for common ground after ...
Published: 02/22/18
Editorial: They value guns, not kids

Editorial: They value guns, not kids

They value guns over kidsSix days after 17 were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High by a teen-ager firing an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, the Florida House refused to even debate a bill banning the sale of assault weapons. The vote, 71 to 36, wasn...
Published: 02/21/18
Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are traveling to the state capital today and declaring "never again.íí A prominent Florida Republican fundraiser vows he wonít raise another nickel until his party approves new gun controls. Across F...
Published: 02/19/18

Editorial: No more doubt about Russian meddling in election

The latest indictment by the Justice Department special counsel, Robert Mueller, refutes President Donald Trumpís claims that Russian interference in the 2016 election was a Democratic hoax. The indictment details the lengths Russian conspirators too...
Published: 02/19/18

Another voice: Tips should belong to workers, not their bosses

The Trump administration is under fire for proposing a Labor Department regulation that could result in hotel and restaurant employers dipping into the tips customers leave for their employees, depriving the nationís 14 million hard-working restauran...
Published: 02/18/18
Updated: 02/20/18
Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Itís not popular in Washington or virtually anywhere else these days to express concern about the rising federal deficit. Congressional Republicans who used to be deficit hawks first voted to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, then rais...
Published: 02/17/18
Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

The city of Tampa should have taken Tanja Vidovic seriously from the start when the Tampa firefighter complained about her treatment in the workplace. Now that a jury and judge have spoken, itís time for City Hall to cut its losses, learn from its mi...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

The dark cloud enveloping Tampa Bayís job placement centers keeps growing. There are accusations of forged documents, evidence of nepotism and concerns about grossly inflated performance numbers that could be tied to receiving more public money and b...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Even before the victims of another mass shooting at another public school were identified, Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, state legislators and members of Congress rushed to South Florida or to social media to offer their thoughts and p...
Published: 02/15/18
Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

The Florida Department of Children and Families is right to call for a timely and "comprehensive" review of Hillsborough Countyís foster care system. Though the probe is a reaction to a recent case involving a child who was left unattended, the revie...
Published: 02/14/18