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Recruiting investigation documents detail contact between Zephyrhills coach, Pasco QB's dad

The Times obtained documents Wednesday that detail Pasco County's findings in a recruiting investigation of the Zephyrhills football program.

In them, Pasco County athletic director Phil Bell and Zephyr­hills principal Steve Van Gorden lay out infractions they say were committed by coach Jerrell Cogmon, who was fired Tuesday, and former volunteer assistant Abel Robinson.

One revelation: Cogmon admitted communicating with Harold Clower, father of Pasco starting quarterback D.J. Clower. In a meeting with Bell and Van Gorden, Cogmon said he was approached by Harold Clower, who said, "we need to get you some kids."

Cogmon said he continued to communicate with Harold Clower via text message and phone, but denied contact with the player. Cogmon said Harold Clower "offered lunches and dinners but he declined." Van Gorden's letter to the Florida High School Athletic Association states Pasco coach Tom McHugh reported that improper contact between Cogmon and Pasco players continued.

Cogmon declined comment.

Other self-reported violations include contact between Robinson and Wesley Chapel students Jamal Roberts and Chris Pierre Charles. Roberts, who transferred to Zephyrhills in July, is accused of following Robinson.

The FHSAA will read the report and give schools an opportunity to respond before making a final ruling, associate executive director/chief administrative officer Sonny Hester said.

Asked if there were concerns about Clower's eligibility, McHugh said, "I could get 10 numbers from Zephyrhills and call their parents or their parents could call me and we could talk. Does that make the kid liable for anything the parent does? He should be fine."

On Aug. 3, Bell and Van Gorden met with Robinson to discuss potential violations. Bell wrote that Robinson admitted a close relationship with many Wesley Chapel student-athletes.

"Contrary to several statements I have received, he denies telling any students to attend ZHS," Bell wrote. "However, he did state that when a student(s) asked him about going to ZHS, he stated the only way you can go to ZHS is if you move."

Bell also called Roberts' mother to tell her of the investigation. "She stated she moved him to ZHS to live with his grandmother and that the move had nothing to do with athletics," Bell wrote.

Van Gorden informed Robinson Aug. 6 that he would no longer be coaching at Zephyrhills. Also that day, Cogmon met with Van Gorden, athletic director Bruce Cimorelli and an assistant principal.

"(Cogmon) stated that he knew Abel had 'some issues' while at WCHS during his previous year," Bell wrote. "… I addressed with Coach Cogmon that in addition to complaints about Coach Robinson and improper contact that I had a complaint about him improperly contacting players from Pasco High School in an attempt to urge them to transfer.

"Cogmon confirmed that he knew Abel was 'talking to kids.' He said he told him 'to not talk to kids anymore.' …

"Later, (Cogmon) admitted that he had communicated with Mr. Clower via text message and phone but he never tried to get his son to go to ZHS. He declined an invite to lunch by Mr. Clower. He denied ever contacting the PHS player himself."

Izzy Gould can be reached at igould@tampabay.com or (813) 421-3886.

On the Web

Zephyrhills football players and assistant coaches talk about moving forward in the aftermath of Jerrell Cogmon's firing at highschool.tampabay.com.

Recruiting investigation documents detail contact between Zephyrhills coach, Pasco QB's dad 08/12/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 12, 2009 10:54pm]

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