Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Sports

Clerical error will delay Armwood High football ruling

An apparent clerical error has delayed the Florida High School Athletic Association's final ruling on Armwood's football program.

FHSAA executive director Roger Dearing told the Tampa Bay Times on Monday that "an error on our part" in the governing body's 45-page report means the Hawks likely won't find out until later this week or early next week whether they'll be stripped of their 2011 state title.

"It's not new information; it's an error on our part," Dearing said. "It's a student we already knew about; we had the wrong year down."

A six-month investigation, outlined in the FHSAA report, found that the families of five Armwood players falsified residence information to enroll at the school. In his formal response this month, Armwood principal Michael Ippolito indicated he agreed with a majority of the findings.

But in going over its final sanction letter "student by student, situation by situation," Dearing said he and his staff discovered a discrepancy between the FHSAA investigator's report and the report sent to Ippolito.

The discrepancy involved the years in which one of the five student-athletes competed at Armwood. That player, previously reported by the Times as receiver Javonte Sneed, also competed for the Hawks in the 2010 season; the other four named in the report competed for the football team only in the 2011 season.

In his response letter, Ippolito pointed out he deemed the student-athlete (whose name was redacted) ineligible in August 2010 because he was discovered practicing with Armwood but was enrolled as a student at Durant.

He was later deemed eligible by an FHSAA appeals committee, Ippolito wrote, in part because his parents provided false information to the appeals committee.

Dearing said to give "fair due process," Ippolito has been given another 10 business days to acknowledge the error and formally respond to the corrected finding. If Ippolito responds affirmatively, Armwood also could be forced to forfeit all 14 games it won in 2010 as well.

Dearing said unless Ippolito provides information contrary to what FHSAA investigator Troy Pumphrey reported, he doesn't expect the process to "take anywhere near 10 days."

"Once he gets that back to us, we've got the letter written," Dearing said. "We're just waiting to hear from the principal."

Joey Knight can be reached at [email protected]

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