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FHSAA adds probation to recruiting arsenal

A new penalty is in force for high schools that try to recruit athletes.

Probation.

Aucilla Christian Academy of Monticello Probation.

Aucilla Christian Academy of Monticello (northeast of Tallahassee) is the first school to receive the penalty handed down by the Florida High School Activities Association. Because of football recruiting violations, the school not only was fined $2,500 but was put on probation for a year. The team can't compete for the district title in '94.

Previously, a fine was the only weapon held by the FHSAA. But now the organization is following the path of the NCAA, which uses probation against its colleges.

Aucilla committed two no-no's, one of which had nothing to do with the school staff. A school parent and booster contacted parents of two players from Taylor County High in Perry _ presumably about playing for Aucilla.

Also, four Aucilla players were receiving "star" scholarships. The FHSAA defines such scholarships as being based on a student being an athlete rather than showing a financial need.

Monday night football: Depending on how the rest of the high school football season plays out, we could see post-season tiebreakers in every Pinellas district. The tiebreakers would be played on Monday, Nov. 14. (Please see accompanying story and standings).

Champion again: It was fun to see Clearwater volleyball coach Anne Balderson bounce around with her players after the Tornadoes won their 12th Pinellas County Athletic Conference championship.

"Wasn't it great?!" Balderson said.

But Anne, you've won a dozen of these things. What's the big deal?

"This is what we come to practice for," she said. "This is what we work hard for."

This was Clearwater's first title in four years. With other teams in the county catching up to the Tornadoes (Tarpon even passed them for a few years), it was questionable whether they could get back on top. They did.

Volleyball poll: A volleyball poll was begun this season by the Florida Sportswriters Association. But, unlike its football counterpart, the volleyball poll has not worked out well. Scores are not reported and little information is known about the teams. When the sportswriters do vote, it is usually blindly. That explains why Shorecrest (22-8) has one of its best-ever teams but has been ignored in the Class 2A poll.

Another pillar is going: Two behind-the-scenes folk you probably haven't met are Shirley Hiers and Mary Bailey. Hiers was the county athletic department secretary until she retired last February. Bailey, the department's bookkeeper, is retiring this week. Their service dates back to the 1970s. County activities director Bob Hosack will miss them and, indirectly, so will you.

Also leaving: After this week, coaches can no longer leave messages on my voice mail _ unless you want to call up to Maine. After 35 years in Florida, I'm moving out. It's too crowded here for my Nancy, Brendan, Bridget and Kelly.

My Clearwater bureau desk is almost cleaned out. Until a replacement is found, those coaches and others who usually contact me should call the St. Petersburg sports office (893-8123).

Take care. Enjoy the moments.

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