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Div. I recruit's football career ends in dispute

Published Oct. 7, 2005

Gary Hall said he coaches to help kids. One former Hudson High football player said he could have done without Hall's help.

Robert Cornett, a 6-foot-3, 230-pound senior who was being recruited by a host of Division I schools, left the team this fall in a dispute with Hall.

The player and the coach dispute the circumstances. Hall said Cornett missed too much practice and was unwilling to make up the time. Cornett, who works at Outback Steakhouse, said Hall was inflexible and was not willing to take into consideration that Cornett had to work.

The dispute came to a head the day before the season-opening Kickoff Classic with Pinellas Park when Hall told Cornett to make up the time or he was off the team. Cornett balked because he had to work and cleaned out his locker, effectively ending his chance for a college scholarship.

"This has upset me," Cornett said. "Coach Hall has cost me my future.'

Hall said Cornett only has himself to blame.

"I've talked with Robert until I was blue on the face," Hall said. "He had all the potential in the world but was not willing to work to reach his potential. He is lazy. He never once came in during the summer to work out. He just expected things to be handed to him."

It is Hall's policy that all players must make up missed practice time by working out in the weightroom or cleaning the lockerroom. Cornett missed the first three days of practice because of dental problems, he said.

Hall said Cornett missed subsequent practices (because he had to work, Cornett said) and had to make up 17 hours before he could suit up for a game. Cornett did make up two hours in the lockerroom after practice one day, and Hall said that if Cornett spent the next day working at the school, he would throw out the remaining make-up time.

Cornett said he could not because he had to work.

"It wasn't fair," Cornett said. "He wanted me to make up all the time in one day or I was off the team. I had to work because I need to make money to fix my truck. I need the truck to get to practice and school. But coach Hall didn't accept that, so I walked out."

Cornett may have walked out on a college scholarship, Hall said.

"I sent over 200 letters out in Robert's behalf and still get responses every week," Hall said. "They want to know how he is doing. It's a shame."