May 14, 2012 Mr. Michael Ippolito, Principal



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May 14, 2012

Mr. Michael Ippolito, Principal

Blanche Armwood Senior High School

12000 US Highway 92

Seffner, Florida 33584

Dear Mr. Ippolito:

Subject: FHSAA’s investigation of Armwood High’s Football Program

This communication addresses the Florida High School Athletic Association’s (herein referred to as FHSAA) findings as related to the current investigation of Armwood High School’s football program (herein referred to as AHS).

Attached is a copy of the investigative report received from FHSAA’s investigative consultant.

Please review the following information in its entirety for appropriate response to the FHSAA Office.

The following information is organized as follows:



  1. Background Summary

  2. Pertinent Bylaws and Policies

  3. Summary of Potential Violations and Additional Requested Information



  1. Background Summary

The FHSAA authorized an investigative consultant to review the eligibility status of players participating in AHS’ football program during the 2011-12 school year. This review also addressed potential improprieties committed by any representatives of the school’s athletic program as defined in FHSAA Bylaws and Policies.

  1. Pertinent Statute(s), Bylaws, and Policies

The FHSAA Bylaws and Policies relative to this investigation include Bylaw and Policy references for 2011-12 school year. The following lists, at a minimum, applicable statute(s), bylaws, and policies:

Florida Statutes §837.06 provides that whoever knowingly makes a false statement in writing with the intent to mislead a public servant in the performance of his official duty shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree. Additionally a person who knowingly makes a false declaration under penalties of perjury is guilty of the crime of perjury by false written declaration, a felony of the third degree.
2011-12 FHSAA Handbook

1.4.18 Representative of a School’s Athletic Interests – “Representative of a school’s athletic interests” refers to any independent person, business, organization or group that participates in, assists with and/or promotes that school’s interscholastic athletic program. This includes:

(a) A student-athlete or other student participant in the athletic program, such as a team manager, student trainer, etc., at that school;

(b) The parents, guardians or other family members of a student-athlete or other student participant in the athletic program at that school;

(c) Relatives of a coach or other member of the athletic department staff at that school;

(d) A volunteer worker in that school or that school’s athletic program;

(e) An athletic booster organization of that school;

(f) A member of an athletic booster organization of that school;

(g) A person, business, organization or group that makes financial or in-kind contributions to the athletic department or to an athletic booster organization of that school; and

(h) Any other person, business, organization or group that is otherwise involved in promoting the school’s interscholastic athletic program.


2.5 ADMINISTRATIVE CONTROL AND RESPONSIBILITY

Each school must control its interscholastic athletic programs by FHSAA rules and regulations. The principal, who is responsible for the administration of all aspects of the school’s interscholastic athletic programs, is responsible for ensuring this control, which extends to and includes responsibility for and control over the actions of:

(a) The administration and faculty;

(b) The athletic department staff and student-athletes;

(c) The student body, parents and other spectators at athletic events; and

(d) Any other individual or group engaged in activities representing, supporting or promoting the athletic interests of the school.

3.5.1 Administrative Control (Duties and Authority of the Principal). A member school must control its interscholastic athletic programs in accordance with the regulations of the Association. Responsibility for this control rests with the principal, who is responsible for the administration of all aspects of the school’s interscholastic athletic programs.

3.5.2 Compliance with Rules. A member school must comply with all bylaws and other rules of the Association. The school must monitor its athletic programs to assure compliance with all bylaws and regulations, must identify and report to the FHSAA Office instances in which compliance has not been achieved, and must take appropriate corrective actions regarding such instances of noncompliance. Staff members, student-athletes and other individuals and groups representing, supporting or promoting the school’s athletic interests must comply with applicable bylaws and rules. The school is responsible for such compliance.

3.5.2.1 Eligibility of Student-Athletes. A member school must certify the eligibility of all student-athletes. The school must not permit a student-athlete to participate in interscholastic competition unless the student-athlete meets all eligibility requirements.


3.5.2.2 Cooperation with Association. A member school must fully cooperate in the investigation of any alleged violation of the bylaws or other rules of the Association. A school that refuses to permit the interview of any individual, to grant access to and inspection of pertinent records, to submit relevant information to the Association upon request, or otherwise interferes with or obstructs the investigation, will be in violation of this provision.

3.5.4 Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct. A member school must establish policies that promote sportsmanship and ethical conduct in its interscholastic athletic programs. These policies must require student-athletes, coaches and all other individuals associated with the school’s interscholastic athletic programs to adhere to such fundamental values as respect, fairness, civility, honesty and responsibility. The school must educate, on a continuing basis, all staff members, student-athletes, student body, and other individuals and groups representing, supporting or promoting the school’s athletic interests about these policies.

6.2.1 Eligibility Reports. The principal or designee must annually submit all eligibility reports electronically and sign all eligibility correspondence.

6.3.1 General Principle (Recruiting). Recruitment or attempted recruitment of students for athletic purposes is an act of unsportsmanlike conduct and is expressly forbidden.

6.3.2 Definition of Recruiting. Recruiting is the use of undue influence or special inducement by anyone associated with the school in an attempt to encourage a prospective student to attend or remain at that school for the purpose of participating in interscholastic athletics.

6.3.3 Liability for Recruitment. A member school is responsible for any violation of this bylaw and/or the recruiting policies committed by any person associated with the school, including the principal, assistant principals, athletic director, coaches, teachers, any other staff members or employees, students, parents, or any organizations having connection to the school, such as booster clubs. The member school is also responsible for a violation committed by any third party under the direction of the school or anyone associated with it.


9.1.2.2 Falsification of Information. A student who falsifies information to gain eligibility shall be declared ineligible to represent any member school for a period of one year from the date of discovery.

9.2.1 Student May Only Participate at School He/She First Attends Each School Year. A student must attend school, and may participate only in the interscholastic athletic programs sponsored by the school he/she first attends each school year, which is either: (s.1006.20(2)(a), Florida Statutes)

(a) The school where the student first attends classes; or

(b) The school where the student first participates in an athletic activities on or after the official start date of that sport season before he/she attends classes at any school.

9.3.2 Transfer Student Not Eligible Until the Following School Year. A student who transfers from one school to another will not be eligible at the new school until the beginning of the next school year, unless the student qualifies under one of the fol­lowing five exceptions:

9.3.2.1 Exception – Full and Complete Move to New Residence. A student who moves to a new home address due to a full and complete move by the student and the persons with whom he/she has been living for at least one calendar year that makes it necessary for the student to attend a different school and meets all other eligibility requirements as provided in Article 9 will be eligible subject to Bylaw 9.3.3. A student and his/her parents cannot occupy a residence at more than one address, and only the student’s current residence may be used for eligibility purposes.

9.3.2.1.1 Full and Complete Move Defined. The following items are evidence a move is full and complete:


(a) The former residence is not occupied for any purpose at any time by the student or any of the persons with whom the student has been living; and

(b) All personal belongings are moved from the former residence; and

(c) Mail is received at the new residence; and

(d) All utilities are transferred to the new residence; and

(e) Driver’s license, voter registration and other forms of legal identification are changed to the new residence.

9.3.3.2 Transfer Student’s Former School Must Verify Eligibility Status Upon Request. The member school formerly attended by a transfer student must verify the student’s eligibility status if requested to do so by the student’s new school.

9.3.3.3 Transfer Student Not Eligible for One Full Semester if Transcript Cannot be Obtained. A transfer student whose former school cannot or will not provide an official sealed transcript will not be eligible in the new school until he/she has been in attendance for one full semester and has established a cumulative GPA. The school must submit a written report to the FHSAA Office that includes the student’s name, date of first attendance in the school, and the beginning and ending dates of the previous semester.

10.2.1 General Principle (Forfeiture of Contest). If an ineligible student is inadvertently or intentionally permitted to participate in an interscholastic athletic contest, forfeiture of the game and honors shall be automatic and mandatory.

10.3.1 Protesting Actions of Another School. Any member school filing a protest over the eligibility of a student or the actions of a member school shall submit to the Executive Director in writing a full statement of the facts signed by the principal. The Executive Director shall provide the accused party or parties with a copy of the accusation and determine if the allegations warrant an investigation.


10.5.3 Complete and Accurate Submissions. The person or entity making the appeal must ensure that the information submitted to support such appeal or request is complete and accurate. In the event a decision by the Sectional Appeals Committee or the Board of Directors was made based on incomplete or inaccurate information, the decision shall be withdrawn and the sanctions provided by these bylaws shall apply.

POLICY 18 PRACTICES AND SCRIMMAGES

18.1 General Practices

18.1.1 Only those student-athletes who are attending a member school, or who are either home education program or charter school pro­gram students registered with a member school, may participate in the practice of an athletic team which represents that member school.

18.1.4 Violation of this policy could result in a monetary penalty of a minimum of $250 per occurrence.

Policy 36 ATHLETIC RECRUITING

36.2.2 Improper Contact. “Improper contact” is contact, either directly or indirectly, whether in person or through written or electronic communication, by a school employee, athletic department staff member, representative of the school’s athletic interests or third parties, such as an independent person, business or organization, with a student or any member of the student’s family, in an effort to pressure, urge or entice the student to attend a different school for the purpose of participating in interscholastic athletics.

36.2.3 Impermissible Benefit. An “impermissible benefit” is any arrangement, assistance or benefit that is not offered or generally made available to all students and/or their families who apply to or attend a school, or that otherwise is prohibited by FHSAA rules. Receipt of a benefit by a student-athlete or his/her family is not a violation of FHSAA rules if it is demonstrated that the same benefit is generally available to the school’s students or family members and is not based in any way on athletic interest, potential or performance.


36.3.3 Contact Initiated by Prospective Student. When a school employee, athletic department staff member or representative of a school’s athletic interests is contacted by a student who does not attend that school and/or any other member of his/her family, about the school’s interscholastic athletic program or attending the school, the school employee, athletic department staff member or representative of the school’s athletic interests must immediately refer the student and/or his/her family member to the appropriate school personnel who have the responsibility of registering and admitting prospective students.

36.4 IMPERMISSIBLE BENEFIT

36.4.1 General Regulation. No school employee, athletic department staff member, representative of the school’s athletic interests or third parties, such as an independent person, business or organization, may be involved, directly or indirectly, in promising, offering or giving an impermissible benefit to any student or any member of his/her family for the purpose of participating in interscholastic athletics, or to any student-athlete who already attends a school.

36.4.2 Specific Prohibitions. Specifically prohibited arrangements, assistance or benefits include, but are not limited to, the following:

36.4.2.2 Cash or like items, such as credit cards, debit cards, gift cards, gift certificates, coupons or vouchers.

36.4.2.3 Gift of clothing, equipment, merchandise or other tangible items.

36.4.2.4 Loans or assistance in securing a loan of any kind.

36.4.2.5 Payment for any work or service that is not performed or that is in excess of the amount normally paid for such work or service.


36.4.2.6 Free or reduced-cost transportation.

36.4.2.7 Living on a full- or part-time basis, regardless of whether rent is paid, with any school employee, athletic department staff member, representative of the school’s athletic interests or other individual(s) who are not the student’s parent(s) or legal guardian(s) duly appointed by a court of competent jurisdiction.

36.4.2.8 Free or reduced-cost rent for housing, vehicles or other items.

36.4.2.9 Full or partial payment of moving expenses or assistance of any kind with an actual physical move.

36.4.2.10 Employment or assistance in securing employment or contractual arrangement of any kind for which compensation may be paid.

36.4.2.11 Promise of a position on an interscholastic athletic team or playing time as a member of the team.

36.4.2.12 Promise of guaranteeing a college athletic scholarship.

36.4.2.13 Free or reduced costs to attend a sport or skills camp.

36.4.2.14 Any other form of arrangement, assistance or benefit that is not generally available to other students in the school or their families or that is based in any way on athletic ability.

36.7 COMPLIANCE DOCUMENTS

36.7.1 Certification of Compliance Form. Each member school each year must submit to the FHSAA Office, utilizing the official Association process as approved by the Executive Director, certifying that the principal, the athletic director and the president of each athletic booster organization of the school have reviewed the “FHSAA Policy on Athletic Recruiting,” and that he/she will comply with all provisions of the policy, and will review the provisions of the policy with school employees, athletic department staff members and representatives of the school’s athletic interests. The head coach in each varsity sport offered by the school shall, utilizing the official Association process as approved by the Executive Director, certify that he/she has reviewed the “FHSAA Policy on Athletic Recruiting,” will comply with all provisions of the policy and will review the provisions of the policy with his/her coaching staff and players electronically in a process facilitated by the FHSAA. Failure to comply will subject the school to minimum monetary penalty of $100.



  1. Summary of Potential Violations

The following information is a list of potential violations according to all information received. Please respond to each potential violation in writing, separately, and indicate whether you:




  • Agree a violation occurred. For violations which AHS agrees occurred, please report any corrective actions taken to ensure a violation of this nature does not re-occur.

  • Disagree and consider a violation did not occur (supporting documentation must be presented).

  • Agree some form of violation occurred but not as described in herein (supporting documentation must be presented).


Keionne Baines (student)


  1. Student participated during the 2010-11 school year while ineligible (reference Bylaw 9.1.2.2).

  2. Student falsified information to gain athletic eligibility (reference Bylaw 9.1.2.2). This falsified information includes but is not limited to: forging signatures on official documents (F.S. 837.06), and providing inaccurate information regarding rental payments.

  3. Student participated during the 2011-12 school year while ineligible (reference Bylaws 9.1.2.2 and 10.5.3.)

  4. Student received impermissible benefit through living arrangement (reference Policy 36.4.2.7)

Please provide a list of all contests in which the student participated and represented AHS during the 2011-12 school year.


Craig Carrington (student)


  1. Student participated during the 2010-11 school year while ineligible (reference Bylaw 9.1.2.2).

  2. Student falsified information to gain athletic eligibility (reference Bylaws 9.1.2.2 and 9.3.2.1.1).


  3. Student participated during the 2011-12 school year while ineligible (reference Bylaw 9.1.2.2).

  4. Student received impermissible benefit through living arrangement (reference Policy 36.4.2.7).

Please provide a list of all contests in which the student participated and represented AHS during the 2011-12 school year.


John Lightsey (student)


  1. Student participated during the 2010-11 school year while ineligible (reference Bylaw 9.1.2.2 and 9.3.3)

  2. Student participated during the 2011-12 school year while ineligible (reference Bylaw 9.1.2.2).

  3. Student falsified information to gain athletic eligibility (reference Bylaw 9.1.2.2). This includes information provided in response to FHSAA’s investigative consultant.

Please provide a list of all contests in which the student participated and represented AHS during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years.


Gregory Newton (student)


  1. Student participated during the 2010-11 school year while ineligible (reference Bylaw 9.1.2.2).

  2. Student falsified information to gain athletic eligibility (reference Bylaw 9.1.2.2).

  3. Student participated during the 2011-12 school year while ineligible (reference Bylaw 9.1.2.2).

Please provide a list of all contests in which the student participated and represented AHS during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years.

Javonte Sneed (student)


  1. Student participated during the 2011 spring contest while ineligible (reference bylaw 9.3.2.1.1).

  2. Student presented inaccurate, fraudulent information to Section 3 Appeals Committee to gain athletic eligibility (reference Bylaw 10.5.3)

  3. Student falsified information to gain athletic eligibility (reference Bylaw 9.1.2.2.)

Please provide a list of all contests in which the student participated and represented AHS during the 2011-12 school year.


AHS Staff


  1. AHS head coaching staff failed to review the FHSAA Recruiting Policy with its staff.


Representative of School’s Athletic Interests (Bylaw 1.4.18)


  1. Two representatives of AHS athletic interests participated in falsifying information to assist a student in attending Armwood High School.

Please provide a list of all students who have transferred into AHS since January 1, 2012. For each student list the following:



  • Student’s current grade level;

  • The school the student previously attended;

  • The sport(s) in which the student participated at the previous school; and

  • The address (residence) which each student provided in order to attend Armwood.

NOTE: In reviewing the aforementioned, potential violations, this office is concerned with regard to AHS’ enrollment procedures for transfer students. Please include in your response any corrective actions invoked by AHS to ensure situations such as these do not re-occur.

Please submit your response(s) so that it is received within ten (10) business days of delivery of this communication. In the event AHS needs additional time to compile its response, please don’t hesitate to contact this office for an extension.
If you have any questions regarding this communication, please feel free to contact me at extension 240.
Sincerely,

M. Denarvise Thornton, Jr.

Associate Executive Director
Cc: Roger Dearing, Executive Director

Peggy Jones, Associate Executive Director

Justin Harrison, Assistant Executive Director

MaryEllen Elia, Superintendent, Hillsborough County Public Schools

Lanness Robinson, Athletic Director, Hillsborough County Public Schools


ARMWOOD HIGH SCHOOL INVESTIGATION

April 28

2012


Per order of Dr. Roger Dearing, Executive Director of the Florida High School Athletic Association and Denarvise Thornton, Associate Director. Attached is a report of findings for the inquiry into Armwood High School. Troy J Pumphrey , Investigative Consultant



On or about November 15, 2011 the undersigned investigator was asked to visit Armwood High School as a result of an ABC News Investigative Report.

The concern is whether student athlete John Lightsey transferred to Armwood High School in part due to athletic reasons, and whether Hillsborough County Administrator(s) displayed a lack of administrative control, per FHSAA rules.

As a result of the initial inquiry into student Lightsey, the investigator found it necessary to conduct an athletic audit of the entire Armwood varsity football program.

The following persons were interviewed:


  1. Verne Gavitt, Parent of student athlete – Sean Gavitt

  2. Calvin McElroy, Choice Office employee – Hillsborough County Public Schools

  3. Sharon Morris, Aunt of student athlete- Sean Gavitt

  4. Mike Ippolito, Principal – Armwood High School

  5. Don Hill, Athletic Director – Armwood High School

  6. Ms. Hamar, Guidance Counselor – Armwood High School

  7. John Lightsey, parent of student/athlete John Lightsey III – Armwood High School

  8. Shelly Lightsey, parent of student/athlete John Lightsey III- Armwood High School

  9. Carolyn Newton, parent of student/athlete Gregory Newton Jr. – Armwood High School

  10. Gloria Newton, grandparent of student/athlete Gregory Newton Jr. – Armwood High School

  11. Gregory Newton, father of student/athlete Gregory Newton Jr. – Armwood High School

  12. Kenneth Baines, father of student/athlete Keionne Baines –Armwood High School

  13. Evon Washington, cousin of student/athlete Keionne Baines- Armwood High School

  14. Bill Ward, Sports Writer -Tampa Tribune

  15. Michelle Utrera, Property Manager – The Sanctuary at Highland Oaks

  16. David Wojciechowicz, employee – Tampa Electric Company

  17. Eric Collins, stepfather of student/athlete Javonte Sneed – Armwood High School

  18. M. Collins, previous lessor of Bloomfield Hills Drive

  19. James Peace, Regional Geologist – PSI Engineering

  20. Sean Callahan, Head Football Coach – Armwood High School

  21. Isaac Anderson, Assistant Football Coach – Armwood High School

  22. Jan Womac, Registrar – Armwood High School

  23. Frank Laruso, Head Football Coach, Eastbay High School
  24. Johnny Huneycott, Senior Investigator – Tampa Electric Company


  25. Joey Knight, Sports Writer – Tampa Bay Times

  26. Robert Weiner, Head Football Coach – Plant High School

  27. Bob Henriques, Head Football Coach – Tampa Catholic High School

The undersigned investigator finds sufficient information to question whether Armwood High School violated FHSAA regulations. The regulations in question include; FHSAA Bylaw 2.5, 9.1.2.2, 9.3.2.1.1, 9.3.2.2, 10.5.4, Policy 36.2.2, 36.2.3, 36.3.3, 36.4.1 and 36.4.2.14 to name a few. Below are the results of the investigation to date:




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