Former Miami Springs High School employee Rodolfo "Rudy" Camejo Sr. housed four teenage baseball players from Mexico and Puerto Rico in a rented Virginia Gardens home. He regularly told colleagues he was "sponsoring" the boys. No one seemed to mind.
But there's a problem, say Miami-Dade County Public Schools investigators. Housing student athletes is a violation of state rules. So is recruiting them in the first place.
When someone eventually tipped off investigators, Camejo said he was simply trying to help underprivileged kids play baseball and get an education.
Last month, the school district's Office of the Inspector General issued a blistering report that alleges Camejo illegally recruited as many as 14 Latin American teens to play baseball at Miami public schools since 1983. The report found that two district coaches, Willie Vazquez and Eddie Doskow, also had a hand in the illegal recruiting. Camejo told investigators he'd previously worked as a Major League Baseball scout.
"Recruiting is considered a major violation for which the school is responsible — whether committed due to a lack of administrative control of through ignorance of the rules," the report states. Though Camejo and Vazquez have left the district, the report says Doskow was still the varsity baseball coach at Southridge Senior High School as of August. (He has coached there for 17 years. The team's record last year was 12-11.)
Update: Miami-Dade County Public Schools Spokesperson John Schuster said Doskow is no longer coaching in the school district. He said he could not comment further, as the matter is under investigation.
High-school athletics do not function like those at the college level, where players are courted with fancy dorms and beautiful training facilities. Florida High School Athletic Association rules state that "recruiting" anyone to play for a public school's athletic team is a "gross violation of the spirit and philosophy of educational athletics, and unethical and unsporting." Schools are required to make sure that none of their employees, athletic department staff, and any third parties they work with are not illegally recruiting athletes, especially those from other countries.
Likewise, schools are prohibited from giving extra benefits to student-athletes. These include "living on a full or part-time basis, regardless of whether rent is paid, with any school employee, athletic department staff member, representative of the school's athletic interest or other individual(s) who are not the student's parent(s) or legal guardian(s) duly appointed by a court."
But according to the Inspector General's report, administrators at Miami Springs ignored Camejo's past history of recruiting violations and the fact that he was openly speaking about housing four athletes in a rented home.
Mr. Camejo acknowledges that he has been “sponsoring” baseball athletes to play for M-DCPS senior high schools since 1983. He estimated that he has recruited 14 athletes over the years, inclusive of the 4 athletes in question in this complaint. The OIG investigation determined that Mr. Camejo:
• Recruited two athletes from Mexico to play varsity baseball in Miami Springs and two athletes from Puerto Rico.
• Housed the two players from Puerto Rico at the request of Coach Doskow.
• Provided free housing (other than $250 for incidentals and entertainment) for all four aforementioned student athletes, in violation of Florida High School Athletic
Association (FHSAA) regulations.
• Was not the “legal guardian duly appointed by a court of competent jurisdiction,” as required by FHSAA.
• Signed a lease agreement with Coach Vazquez, Miami Springs baseball coach, for the house in Virginia Gardens (Miami Springs High School district), where he housed the four athletes.
Investigators also found out that Camejo was a coach at Miami Senior High School but had been fired after getting caught illegally recruiting and housing athletes. He said he began "
New Times wrote about Camejo Sr.'s first recruiting violations in 1998. That year, he was also accused of recruiting Mexican teens.
Of the four illegal athletes, two from Puerto Rico initially played at Southridge during the 2012-2013 school year. Camejo said Southridge Coach Doskow "went to Puerto Rico and got those kids in the summer." Camejo said they'd initially lived with Doskow but that Doskow later asked him to house the athletes until he could find someone else to take them.
The two students from Mexico, meanwhile, began playing for Miami Springs in 2012. One played catcher, while the other did not arrive from Mexico in time to be eligible for the team that year. That student then went back to Mexico and did not return.
Investigators also said Camejo, his daughter, and Miami Springs Coach Vazquez signed a 24-month lease for a house in Virginia Gardens where the students lived.
The report says the two boys from Puerto Rico were supposed to live with an uncle, named "Cesar Castro," upon
"Recruiting is unfair to student-athletes," the report says. "Recruiting players from other schools and from other countries (especially recruiting from foreign sports academies as occurred here) affects other schools and athletes competing in the sport. We strongly agree with the FHSAA that “athletic recruiting is a gross violation of the spirit and philosophy of educational athletics."
Correction: This piece previously misstated which member of the Camejo family was implicated in the report.