The Florida High School Athletic Association found Timber Creek transfers violated rules in order to join the Wildcats’ football team.
On Thursday morning, Aug. 23, the FHSAA announced the ineligibility of four Winter Park transfers from Timber Creek High School.
In a statement sent to Winter Park High School Principal Matt Arnold by FHSAA Associate Executive Director of Eligibility and Compliance Services Craig Damon, the FHSAA stated it had found that four students had violated rules so they could enroll at Winter Park and join the football team.
Two students had falsified residential documents to make it appear as though they had moved into the school’s zoning area. The other two students were discovered to have accepted impermissible benefits. The statement said that the students had housing leased to them by an unnamed parent of a current Winter Park football player. One of the leases, states the FHSAA, showed signs that it had clearly been altered.
The violations for each of the four players carries the penalty of ineligibility for exactly one year.
“On behalf of the FHSAA, I would like to express our gratitude for the cooperation of Winter Park High School (WPHS) and the Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) with resolving our eligibility issues surrounding the football program at WPHS,” Damon said in the statement.
The issue arose when administrators at Winter Park and OCPS approached the FHSAA about concerns they had regarding a handful of the school’s transfers.
According to the statement, WPHS Athletic Director Michael Brown spoke with Arnold, before reaching out to the district office for “assistance on verifying the enrollment status of the student-athletes in question.” After further examination, Damon, Arnold, Brown and Doug Patter (senior administrator for athletics and activities) met with FHSAA staff on Tuesday, Aug. 21, to discuss the situation — which led to the punishments handed out Thursday.
No coaches were found to have been involved with any of the rules' violations, the statement said.
All four student-athletes have until 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 24, to appeal the decision before the FHSAA meeting on Sept. 5 at Ocala Trinity Catholic High School.