Ineligible Armwood players appeal to FHSAA
TAMPA - An attorney representing the parents of four current and two former ineligible Armwood football players has requested that principal Mike Ippolito file paperwork with the Florida High School Athletics Association to have their individual cases presented to a sectional appeals committee later this summer. Four of the players planning to file an appeal through Ippolito were ruled ineligible by the FHSAA, which eventually resulted in the Hawks being stripped of their 2011 state crown and 26 victories from the past two seasons. The two other players who are appealing were ruled ineligible by Ippolito during an in-house investigation he performed after they transferred to Armwood early this year. The players' attorney, Peter Hobson, said his clients are not attempting to change the FHSAA's final ruling made last month against Armwood's football team. Instead, Hobson says the players' parents are attempting to have their individual cases heard by a FHSAA appeals committee in hopes of either regaining their eligibility or, in the case of the two players who have graduated, clearing their name and changing the methods the FHSAA uses to gather facts and establish due process in future investigations."The parents filed the appeal because, again, they believe they did not have that opportunity to be heard and had they been given that opportunity, the report would be much different than it appears to be today," Hobson said. "To a family, they believe that by going through this appeals exercise, there is going to be a benefit conferred because they believe change will come about." Hobson said the two student-athletes whom Ippolito ruled ineligible have a "significant amount of valuable information" that was not heard before he made his decision. One of the players transferred to Armwood from Wharton, where he was a starter, the other from Seffner Christian where he, too, was a starter. Hobson said the request for Ippolito to file the appeal was sent to Armwood by facsimile Friday. The deadline for Ippolito to file the appeal was Monday but Hobson said Ippolito and the other Armwood officials allowed to submit it to the FHSAA are all on vacation. As a result, Hobson contacted the legal council of the FHSAA, which he says has allowed him to have an extension until next Monday at 5 p.m. The FHSAA's seven-person sectional appeals committees meets next in early August. For this part of the state, cases would be presented to a committee in Bradenton.