Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

FHSAA formally investigates Tampa Catholic after second recruiting charge

The Florida High School Athletic Association has launched a formal investigation into Tampa Catholic after a second school alleged recruiting violations against the Crusaders' football program.

Times files

The Florida High School Athletic Association has launched a formal investigation into Tampa Catholic after a second school alleged recruiting violations against the Crusaders' football program.

Another recruiting allegation against Tampa Catholic, including an offer "too good to pass up," helped expand the Florida High School Athletic Association's ongoing formal investigation into the Crusaders athletic department.

The FHSAA notified Tampa Catholic last month that an investigator will review the school for possible violations for the second time in three years, FHSAA spokesman Corey Sobers said Thursday morning.

That notice came a week after Sunlake became the second Pasco County school to accuse Tampa Catholic of recruiting football players.

Two freshmen told Sunlake officials that Crusaders coaches watched their youth league football games and asked them about transferring to Tampa Catholic, according to documents obtained by the Tampa Bay Times through an open-records request. Although neither played for the Seahawks last year, they were expected to play on the junior varsity team this fall.

"Both stated a Tampa Catholic coach came to their houses with scholarship offers and (they) would have better scholarship opportunities by leaving Pasco County," Sunlake football coach Bill Browning wrote in a note sent to the FHSAA on Feb. 17.

When Seahawks baseball coach Dick Rohrberg asked one multisport athlete why he wasn't trying out for his team, the student said a Crusaders football coach had watched him play and that Tampa Catholic "made me an offer that is too good to pass up," Rohrberg wrote.

The father of one of the students told Sunlake registrar Denise Garcia that his son was going to Tampa Catholic to play football. "Don't get me wrong," the father said, according to Pasco County Schools documents. "Coach Browning has a good program but it's Hillsborough County."

Tampa Catholic principal Thomas Reidy said his school has been cooperating with the FHSAA since the association began looking into the Crusaders athletic department.

"I don't want to say much because it is an open investigation, but I'm looking forward to it ending," Reidy said.

The inquiry began in January, when Pasco contacted the FHSAA after five-star sophomore Nate Craig transferred to Tampa Catholic. Craig, a 6-foot-3 receiver, holds more than a dozen scholarship offers from some of the country's top college programs. His mother said that he transferred for academic reasons.

Pasco coach Tom McHugh said the Crusaders began recruiting Craig a year earlier. McHugh also told the FHSAA that Tampa Catholic contacted two other Pirates. When McHugh dialed the phone number that called one of his players, he said a Tampa Catholic receptionist answered.

It's unclear how long the FHSAA's formal investigation could take, but Sobers said the average case takes about three months. After the FHSAA reviews the investigator's report, it will notify the school of any possible violations and give Tampa Catholic a chance to respond.

"The most important thing is having the most accurate facts you can possibly have," Sobers said.

This is the second time since 2011 that the FHSAA has investigated the Crusaders football team. Tampa Catholic was reprimanded in 2012 after the FHSAA ruled that an assistant coach discussed financial aid with a student-athlete.

Matt Baker can be reached at mbaker@tampabay.com or on Twitter @MattHomeTeam.

FHSAA formally investigates Tampa Catholic after second recruiting charge 03/13/14 [Last modified: Thursday, March 13, 2014 10:16pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. LSU's Paul Mainieri defends FSU's Mike Martin; Gators play Friday

    College

    OMAHA, Neb. — LSU coach Paul Mainieri says whether Florida State's Mike Martin ever wins a national championship should have no bearing on how his long career in college baseball is judged.

    MADE IT: TCU’s Josh Watson beats the tag of Louisville catcher Colby Fitch during Thursday’s late College World Series game.
  2. Lightning fans, don't get attached to your first-round draft picks

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — When Lightning GM Steve Yzerman announces his first-round pick tonight in the amateur draft at No. 14, he'll invite the prospect onto the stage for the once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) eludes  Montreal Canadiens left wing Phillip Danault (24) during the second period of Wednesday???‚??„?s (12/28/16) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens at the Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  3. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman also has top-9 wing on his wish list

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Much has been made about the Lightning's interest in bolstering its blue line, even after last week's acquisition of defense prospect Mikhail Sergachev.

    Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman gestures as he speaks to the media about recent trades during a news conference before an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes Wednesday, March 1, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. The Lightning, over the past few days, have traded goaltender Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings, forward Brian Boyle to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and forward Valtteri Filppula to the Philadelphia Flyers. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA101
  4. Peter Budaj loves 'vibe' with Lightning

    Blogs

    Two years ago, nobody was willing to give Peter Budaj a shot, the veteran goalie wondering if he'd ever play in the NHL again.

    Peter Budaj signed a two-year extension with the Lightning, worth $1.025 million per year.