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County AD Al Bennett: All but one East Lake player checked out

Five of East Lake coach Bob Hudson's football players were vetted by the county. Only one player's address didn't pass muster, according to the county athletic director. (Douglas R. Clifford, Times)

Five of East Lake coach Bob Hudson's football players were vetted by the county. Only one player's address didn't pass muster, according to the county athletic director. (Douglas R. Clifford, Times)

Last month, Tarpon Springs coach George Kotis started questioning the status of five East Lake players.

He insisted they were living in Tarpon Springs' zone and called Pinellas County athletic director Al Bennett to check on their eligibility.

Bennett said he informed East Lake to allow the school to conduct its own investigation.

Once the investigation was completed, Bennett said he went to East Lake to double-check that the proper paperwork was in place.

Four of the five players had gone through the correct channels to attend East Lake.

• Two brothers who moved into Tarpon Springs' zone were "grandfathered" in and allowed to stay at East Lake.

• Another player in Tarpon Springs' zone received a special assignment request to go to East Lake.

• The other player was in East Lake's zone all along.

But one raised red flags.

MORE RELATED: East Lake football forced to forfeit games, loses district lead

The player in question transferred from Tarpon Springs to East Lake in January. He filled out the proper paperwork and was living in East Lake's zone.

The house the player and his father were living in belongs to a woman who is in a relationship with an East Lake assistant coach. Bennett said the assistant coach is now living there.

But Bennett said he could not determine whether the assistant coach was living in the house during the time the player was there.

A few months later, the player moved back to Tarpon Springs without notifying East Lake of the change in living arrangements. He still had his old address when he re-submitted the athletic paperwork for this school year.

"From the outside looking in, the optics look really bad on this," Bennett said.

MORE RELATED: Tarpon Springs: Ineligible player used East Lake assistant coach's address

East Lake self-reported the address falsification after it was discovered.

The FHSAA ruled this week that East Lake had to forfeit its first three games for using an ineligible player.

The student is ineligible until Sept. 20, 2018, and East Lake was fined $300 ($100 for each game the student participated in while ineligible). A letter of reprimand also was sent to the school.

County AD Al Bennett: All but one East Lake player checked out 10/13/17 [Last modified: Thursday, October 12, 2017 7:03pm]
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