Breaking: Ponte Vedra Boy’s Team Forfeits All 2017 Wins, Will Pay A Minor Fine, Receives Written Reprimand

 

Ponte Vedra Boys Lacrosse will forfeit all wins from the 2017 season as a result of a ruling by the FHSAA due to:

“Ponte Vedra High School allowed a student-athlete to receive an impermissible benefit (reference FHSAA Policy 37.2.2.7) during the 2016-17 school year.”

According to discussions I’ve had, along with the Report itself, it centers around a student who stayed over a house at night for a certain number of days instead of going home and that residence was connected to a member of the school in that year, but not in the Boys lacrosse program.  The connection to the school is what makes it an FHSAA violation.

FLN does know the identity of the student but we are not going to name him unless he would like to discuss the issue from his viewpoint.  That is ENTIRELY in his control.

 

The Background Summary of the report notes the following:

“The FHSAA received an allegation concerning PVHS’s lacrosse program. The allegation contained potential FHSAA violations involving non-school teams, unsportsmanlike conduct and possible recruiting by members of the PVHS’s lacrosse staff. Also included in the documents were references to unethical behavior by an athletic department staff member.

The allegation was forwarded to Dr. Frederik Oberkehr, PVHS’s Principal, on January 29, 2018, who was instructed to review the allegation. In the email from Mr. Craig Damon, Associate Executive Director for Eligibility and Compliance, numerous policies were referenced along with documentation detailing the allegations. Mr. David Scott and the St. Johns County School District were copied on the email. PVHS, in conjunction with the St. Johns District office, thoroughly investigated the alleged violations. In February, Mr. Scott submitted a detailed report of findings from the investigation. Within this report, PVHS addressed many of the concerns listed in the allegation.

After review, FHSAA staff determined most of the concerns listed were outside of the authority of the FHSAA and more aligned with the day-to-day operations of the school district. However, after comparing information provided in the allegation to the report from PVHS, the FHSAA determined that the only violation was an infraction of FHSAA Policy 37.2.2.7, which occurred during the 2016-17 school year when a student-athlete was permitted to stay with a representative of the school’s athletic interests.

As noted in the report submitted by PVHS, “he began staying with a family friend in Ponte Vedra Beach Tuesday through Thursday, at night while his grandmother was at work. Friday through Monday he commutes from his guardian’s St. Augustine residence…” As indicated in the report submitted to the FHSAA office, at no time was the school, coaches or administration aware of this arrangement while it was occurring. “

 

FLN also spoke with Paul Abbatinozzi, Senior Director of School Services for St. Johns County and he told us that “they respect the decision of the FHSAA, they will accept the sanction and the fine and they are moving forward.  He also mentioned that they will not appeal and that no one will lose their position over this.”

The FHSAA has levied the following penalties:

FHSAA Action: Ponte Vedra High School is fined in the amount of $2500. In accordance with FHSAA Policy 36.5.3.2, PVHS is fined in the amount of $2500. However, $2250 is held in abeyance until June 30, 2019, provided no other violations of FHSAA Policy 37 occur. $250 is due and payable to the FHSAA.  Invoice to follow.

FHSAA Action: Ponte Vedra High School shall forfeit the boys’ lacrosse contests for 2016-17 season.  FHSAA Bylaw 10.2 states that if an ineligible player participates in a contest, immediate forfeiture of games and honors is mandatory. PVHS shall provide a copy of the correspondence, between PVHS and the impacted schools, to this office.

FHSAA Action: Ponte Vedra High School is reprimanded. A reprimand results in an official letter of censure to the member school regarding the violation(s) becoming a permanent part of the school’s membership record.