The former coach at Wesley Chapel High School insists the move is unrelated to his team's recent punishment for misconduct.
Conrad Foss, a fixture in east Pasco County youth sports, has resigned as head boys basketball coach at Wesley Chapel High School, days after his players were disciplined for misconduct during road games, including incidents of theft.
Saint Leo University announced on Monday that Foss accepted a job as assistant men's basketball coach there. Foss officially resigned from the high school Wednesday.
Foss said he left for the opportunity to coach college basketball with the Division II Lions. He said the disciplinary action taken against his former players had no role in his decision to leave.
"Absolutely not," he said. "Those kids are great kids. My decision about going to Saint Leo is about where I want to go and what I want to do. I'm not leaving because of anything the kids did at Wesley Chapel."
Foss also disputed the severity of the incidents.
"Some of the rumors I heard I checked in on, and they are highly exaggerated," he said. "It's not accurate. I know for a fact it's not accurate."
When asked whether Foss' resignation and the disciplinary actions were linked, Wesley Chapel principal Andy Frelick said: "I can't say."
He said the incidents came to light three weeks ago and he conducted an investigation. Frelick said that student confidentiality rules prohibit him from identifying the players who were disciplined, the exact nature of their misconduct, and what measures he took to punish them.
But he did say that the incidents occurred during Wesley Chapel's road games, when the boys basketball season was under way between November and February. Frelick said an unspecified number of players were linked to incidents that occurred at high schools in and out of Pasco County that the team had visited.
"I was upset," Frelick said, after concluding his investigation. "You teach people to make the right choices, and sometimes they don't."
He did not identify what was taken. "The items have been returned," Frelick said.
Frelick said no damage occurred to any of the schools in question, though he declined to identify which schools were victimized.
"The other schools weren't aware of anything until I told them," he said.
The incidents were not reported to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office and were handled as an internal school matter, Frelick said. He said the school district approved of his handling of the case, as did the other schools involved.
Last week, school officials confirmed that three basketball players, Spencer Honeycutt, and brothers Chris and Kenny "Junior" Roberts, were barred from spring football practice for disciplinary reasons.
Frelick said all of the players involved would be welcomed back to Wesley Chapel's athletic program when the new school year begins in the fall.
"Pending they satisfy all of my requirements," he added.
No basketball players could be reached for comment.
Retiring after 22 years as a health care executive, Foss became a legendary youth basketball coach in east Pasco and a tireless force behind youth sports locally.
He serves as the Florida State director for the summer-long American Youth Basketball Tour, founded and runs the East Pasco Basketball league, and coached boys basketball for four years at Weightman Middle School, where his teams won three titles and went undefeated twice.
When Wesley Chapel opened its doors in August, Foss had been hired as the school's first boys basketball coach, overseeing many of the same players he coached at Weightman and in various youth programs. The Wildcats went 10-18 during its inaugural 1999-2000 season.
Frelick said Foss will continue to have access to school facilities for his youth programs.
"The next coach will have big shoes to fill," Frelick said. "Coach (Foss) did a lot for East Pasco basketball. Everything he did was for the community."
Saint Leo men's basketball coach Mike Hanks said Foss will be his top recruiter.
"We're really trying to cultivate and develop this area and this just gives us an opportunity to do that," he said.
Said Foss: "The thing I love about going to Saint Leo is that it's a program on the rise. Mike brought the program back to respectability and he wants to take it to the next level."