Newsflash: The State Stuffs the Stingarees

It's over for Miami High. The Florida High School Activities Association ruled Tuesday the Stingarees must forfeit every victory earned during 1997-98 in boys soccer, basketball, and baseball. In addition, the basketball team must surrender its state championship.

The FHSAA investigation was prompted by a New Times cover story, ("Dream Team," March 5) that detailed the basketball team's violation of numerous state rules prohibiting recruitment. In a seven-page letter faxed Tuesday to Miami High Principal Victor Lopez, FHSAA chairman Ron Davis detailed transgressions by the baseball and soccer teams:

*Assistant baseball coach Rodolfo Camejo improperly enrolled two Mexican students at Miami High and received payment from their parents. Camejo even provided housing for both.

*The soccer team used an overage player.
*All five basketball players featured in the New Times article, Udonis Haslem, Antonio Latimer, Steven Blake, Thaddeus Ambrose, and Damion Fray received inducements to play -- including housing from a booster, an employee, or a coach. "[This] is a flagrant violation of FHSAA [bylaws]...Each of these members of the Miami Senior High School basketball team represented [the school] while ineligible to do so."

The penalties, which can be appealed, are harsh:
*All three teams must forfeit each of last year's victories.
*Miami Senior must pay a $2550 fine and reimburse the $5156 cost of the FHSAA investigation.

*The boys baseball and basketball programs cannot compete for the state championship next year.

*The basketball and baseball teams are prohibited from playing in national tournaments outside Florida.

*The basketball team's state championship trophy must be returned.
*Two baseball players, five basketball players, and one soccer player are permanently ineligible to play sports at Miami High. All are prohibited from playing for any other FHSAA member school this year.

"It is obvious," Davis concluded, "... that this is a very serious matter and could warrant the most severe penalty allowed...Some of the findings result from the intentional violations of the FHSAA bylaws."

Lopez could not be reached for comment.


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