A dominant yet tumultuous season for one of the nation's top boys basketball teams came to an end on Wednesday when Dr. Krop (Fla.) High's injunction to keep its playoff run alive was overturned by an appellate court. The ruling officially ends the season of the team which entered the week ranked No. 16 in the nation in the RivalsHigh 100.
According to the Miami Herald and other sources, the injunction was rejected when the court ruled that Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Spencer Eig -- who issued the injunction a week before -- had no right to issue the injunction in the first place. Overturning the court statement meant that Krop immediately had to vacate its place in the Region 4-6A quarterfinal playoff it was scheduled to contest against Miami (Fla.) High on Thursday, all the result of fielding an ineligible player for the bulk of the 2010-11 season.
"I know those kids worked hard the whole spring and summer to get an opportunity to go back to state," Miami High coach Marcus Carreno told the Herald. "[Dr. Drop coach Shakey Rodriguez] is a hard-working person. And he's one of the best coaches in Dade County, college or high school. I'm sad for them.
"But there are rules in America and we got to live by that. It's an unfortunate situation and I know we would prefer to be playing [Thursday]."
Instead, Miami High will advance in the state playoffs on the basis of a forfeit, with Dr. Krop's official record dropped all the way to 1-22 from its previous 20-3 mark.
Yet the final official record could be just the beginning of major problems for the Dr. Krop program. The Herald has reported that the Florida High School Athletic Association has begun an investigation into the Dr. Krop basketball program, with fines that could reach well into the six-digit variety in the offing if the FHSAA determines that coaches and school administrators knew they were breaking regulations in allowing 19-year-old Bahaman Bryan Delancy, pictured above, to play for the Lightning.
The total fine the school is facing won't be known until the FHSAA concludes its investigation, but it knows that it will already be forced to cough up some $52,500, a sum determined by adding up $2,500 fines for each game the school was forced to forfeit.
"We're very adamant that the administration and coaches know what the responsibilities are regarding their student athletes," FHSAA executive director Roger Dearing told the Herald. "And in this case it's clear that they were not followed. Too many coaches work hard to keep the game clean to have a situation like this represent the Miami area."
An investigation by the Miami Herald has also brought troubling evidence regarding Delancy's eligibility to light.
Although Delancy said he was living with an aunt and uncle while playing for Krop, the home address he gave school officials does not exist. In addition, Krop records list Bernard Wright, a longtime associate of Coach Rodriguez as Delancy's legal guardian and emergency contact. Wright previously coached Delancy at Choice Academy, a private school in downtown Miami. Wright was Rodriguez's assistant coach at Miami High and Florida International University.
Recent public records show that Wright , the guardian, lives in Hialeah -- outside Krop's attendance boundary.
While it's too early to determine the full extent of the fines Dr. Krop is likely to face, the Herald indicated that the total could challenge the staggering $260,800 state-record fine imposed on Miramar Park Academy in June 2010, which was tied to 32 incidences of student ineligibility.
Given the fact that each ineligible player will increase the total fine facing the school by $2,500 per game in which he competed, and the fact that two additional Dr. Krop players are being investigated for residential eligibility questions, the school could be facing a fine of more than $150,000, plus any additional fines levied against Rodriguez and administrators.
It's all a turbulent end to a season which had so much promise for Dr. Krop, which entered the postseason as a favorite in Florida's Class 6A tournament. The question now is whether the school will be allowed to compete in a similar tournament anytime soon.
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- the Miami Herald