St. Thomas Aquinas is in hot water with the FHSAA after the school self-reported a violation of improper contact with another member school that will cost two coaches some of their salary, monetary penalties, and sanctions through the 2020-2021 school year.
In a response letter dated March 27 that was sent to St. Thomas Aquinas’ administration, which was obtained by FloridaHSFootball.com from the FHSAA regarding the self-report, the FHSAA received a self-report from the Class 7A football powerhouse and 2018 State Runner-up stating that assistant coach Torrian Wilson had made improper contact with a student not enrolled at the Fort Lauderdale school that transpired from an allegation received by the FHSAA and forwarded to the school.
As it turns out, the contact was made with a student-athlete at a school that St. Thomas Aquinas has become all-too-familiar with in the playoffs: Dwyer High School.
To make matters worse though, Coach Wilson was not the only one to know about the improper contact – so did head coach Roger Harriott.
As such, the FHSAA found St. Thomas Aquinas’ football program in violation of FHSAA Policies 36.1.2, 220.127.116.11, and 18.104.22.168.
FHSAA Policy 36.1.2 includes the school’s responsibility for the conduct of its interscholastic athletic program listing several subsections of that responsibility:
• Policy 36.1.2 Scope of School’s Responsibility states, a school’s responsibility for the conduct of its interscholastic athletic program includes responsibility for:
• Policy 22.214.171.124 state, the acts of any employee or athletic department staff member;
• Policy 126.96.36.199 states, the acts of third parties, such as an independent person, business or organization, that is a representative of the school’s athletic interests when a member of the school’s administration or athletic department staff knows or should know that the person, business or organization is promoting the school’s interscholastic athletic program; and
• Policy 188.8.131.52 states, the acts of any other third parties, such as an independent person, business or organization, acting at the request, direction, or otherwise on behalf of any employee or representative of the school’s athletic interests.
• Policy 184.108.40.206 states, the acts of any other third parties, such as an independent person, business or organization, acting on behalf of any student athlete.
In this case, the FHSAA stated that St. Thoams Aquinas High School allowed an athletic department staff member to have improper contact with a student enrolled at another member school which is a violation of Policy 36.1.2.
With Policy 220.127.116.11 deals with an effort by a person in terms of to pressure, urge or entice a student to attend a school to participate in interscholastic athletics or to place the student at school for purpose of participating in interscholastic athletics while Policy 18.104.22.168 deals with a person answering an inquiry from a student or any member of his/her family about athletic participation at a school with any response that pressures, urges or entices the student to attend a different school.
• Policy 22.214.171.124 states, suggesting or going along with any effort by any person, whether a school employee, other representative of the school’s athletic interests or any other person, such as an alumnus of a school, a coach or other person affiliated with a non-school athletic program (e.g. AAU team, club team, travel team, recreation league team, etc.), a coach of or recruiter for a collegiate athletic team, a scout for a professional team or other third parties, to pressure, urge or entice the student to attend a school to participate in interscholastic athletics, or to direct or place the student at the school for the purpose of participating in interscholastic athletics.
• Policy 126.96.36.199 states, answering an inquiry by the student or any member of his/her family about athletic participation opportunities at a school with any response that pressures, urges or entices the student to attend a different school. The student or family member instead should be immediately referred to the school employee responsible for registrations or admissions. prospective student-athletes who might be recruited to attend a school.
With the violation of Policy 188.8.131.52, the FHSAA stated that head coach Roger Harriott was aware of the improper contact by an assistant football coach with a student-athlete enrolled at another member school while the violation of Policy 184.108.40.206 is tied back to both Wilson and Harriott in this manner when it comes to the whole issue that initiated the self-report.
As such the school will be placing Coach Wilson on suspension from all football activities for a total of six weeks plus requesting training for all coaches from the FHSAA while requesting additional recommendations from the FHSAA state as deemed appropriate.
On top of the corrective actions made by St. Thomas Aquinas, the school faces the following sanctions from the FHSAA including:
- $2,500 fine in accordance with Policy 220.127.116.11 (financial penalty)
- A reprimand including an official letter of censure to the member school regarding the violation(s) becoming a permanent part of the school’s membership record.
- Administrative Probation effective immediately from the date of the letter and will conclude on June 30, 2021. According to the letter “Administrative Probation – The school is reprimanded, fined and served notice that it is in a period of warning for a minimum of one calendar year. Additional violations during this time will result in increased penalties which may include expulsion.”
- St. Thomas Aquinas will have to schedule Mandatory Annual FHSAA Compliance Workshops for ALL coaches at the expense of St. Thomas Aquinas High School concluding on June 30, 2021.
- St. Thomas Aquinas will have to fully execute the FHSAA EL6 forms on all transfer students before allowing participation, concluding June 30, 2021.
- St. Thomas Aquinas will have to fully cooperate with random audits of the athletic department conducted by the FHSAA periodically through June 30, 2021.
An addition to the sanctions, both Coach Harriott and Coach Wilson will also have to forfeit $5,000 of salary for the first offense of violation of the FHSAA recruiting policy which is afforded through Policy 36.5.4 as following Florida Statute § 1006.20(2)(b)2, F.S. … A second violation of the policy would result in another forfeiture of $5,000 salary and a one-year suspension from all coaching activities within the state of Florida.
St. Thomas Aquinas has the right to appeal the decision from the FHSAA within 10 business days of receipt of the letter, but no word if the school planned to appeal at this time.