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Friday, Dec 19, 2014
Preps

FHSAA investigating Tampa Catholic athletic program

BY NICK WILLIAMS
Tribune Staff

Published:

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The Florida High School Athletic Association is investigating Tampa Catholic’s athletic program for possible recruiting violations.

The investigation comes on the heels of two separate complaints filed by Pasco County public schools in January, alleging illegal recruitment of their student-athletes by Tampa Catholic.

FHSAA spokesperson Corey Sobers confirmed Thursday an investigation is ongoing.

Tampa Catholic director of athletics Freddie Langiotti declined to comment Thursday, saying “we’ve been advised not to comment until investigation is over.”

In January, Pasco County athletic director Phil Bell filed a formal complaint with the FHSAA on behalf of Pasco football coach Tom McHugh, claiming Tampa Catholic recruited sophomore Nate Craig and two other Pasco High players. Also in January, three Sunlake head coaches sent signed letters to the FHSAA detailing illegal recruitment of their players by Tampa Catholic coaches.

The Pasco High complaint alleges Tampa Catholic contacted Craig more than a year ago about transferring to the school. The complaint also states Tampa Catholic contacted two other Pirates players by phone, offering them transportation and tuition to enroll at TC.

McHugh said he was given the number from which the other Pasco players were contacted, and when he called, a TC secretary answered the phone.

In Sunlake’s letter to the FHSAA, obtained Thursday from the Pasco County school district, head football coach Bill Browning said two ninth graders at Sunlake told him they were approached by Tampa Catholic coaches at youth league football games. Browning said the Tampa Catholic coaches also visited the students at their houses with scholarship offers.

Also, Sunlake baseball coach Dick Rohrberg wrote of a potential baseball player who did not try out for the team. When asked why he did not try out, the student told Rohrberg “a Tampa Catholic football coach came to watch me play and they made me an offer that is too good to pass up.”

Whether either school’s complaint is part of the investigation is uncertain, as Sobers said the FHSAA will not divulge any details while an investigation is ongoing.

TC’s football program has been investigated by the FHSAA in the past. In 2012, the governing body reprimanded TC after an assistant coach agreed to give financial aid to a player. While no money was ever exchanged, it was still a violation of recruiting rules.

nwilliams@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7305

Twitter: @NickWilliamsTBO

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