Tuesday, June 10, 2008

If You Have To Break The Rules At Least Be Discreet

"Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing."

And when you've lost repeatedly there's a chance that you'll do anything to become a winner. Including, breaking the rules in a very non-discreet fashion. At least that appears to be what Bradenton Prep did on their way to compiling winning records in football, basketball and tennis.

The report lists 19 violations of FHSAA regulations that led to three years probation for the football, boys basketball and boys tennis programs as well as a $38,000 fine.

Recruiting, allowing players to live with school personnel, accepting students who are under disciplinary sanctions at their former school, is that how you build a winner?

In the case of Bradenton Prep, the answer seems to be yes.

Not long ago the school's athletic program was an afterthought - except for the boys tennis program, which has always been among the best.

Look at it now.

Yes, look at what the school was able to accomplish through various rules violations. Instead of building the programs slowly, the school opted for the fast track approach and did its best to go from worst to first.
The football team won the Class 1B regional title last fall in just its second year of existence and fell one win shy of playing for a state title.

In 2006, one year after losing by nearly 100 points in a district tournament game, the boys basketball team played for the district title and advanced to its first-ever regional tournament with a roster that drew criticism from nearly every school on the schedule.

And how did school officials respond to the criticism and allegations? By calling their accusers jealous, and telling everyone that they were just trying to improve their academic performance of course!
Bradenton Prep officials maintained everything was on the up-and-up - the athletes transferring to Bradenton Prep were doing so purely for the chance at a Bradenton Prep education.

The howls from coaches, administrators and parents at opposing schools suggested otherwise. But it was the position of Bradenton Prep officials that they would rather their school be an academic powerhouse than an athletic powerhouse.

That might very well be the case. But Bradenton Prep, according to the FHSAA, apparently wasn't shy about skirting a number of rules to increase its enrollment if that increase brought in a few athletes.

Those athletes, we have to assume, weren't recruited to ride the bench.

And it wasn't shy about the sudden success of its athletic program, claming the finger-pointing was born out of petty jealousy by schools used to easy victories against the Patriots.

Honestly, if the school had gone about this in a much more covert way I have a feeling that they wouldn't have been busted by the FHSAA. As the article points out "stories of recruiting and other misdeeds by coaches and administrations are not uncommon for any high school, especially private schools". However, you rarely ever hear of any of those allegations being investigated too deeply, and it's even more rare that a school is placed on probation and fined almost $40k. Though, when you flaunt it like Bradenton Prep did you're just asking for trouble.

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