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Florida’s FHSAA Slaps $2,500 Fine on FPC Lacrosse Team; Questions Arise About Payment

| May 9, 2011

The fine could have been much steeper.

The Lacrosse teams at Flagler Palm Coast High School, like other teams, has been recognized under the Florida High School Athletic Association since 2008. The association strictly regulates high school sports down to when, where and how students practice and play. Infractions incur penalties ranging from fines to bans from competition.

Last year, most of FPC lacrosse students played on two teams: the school’s team, which had to follow FHSAA rules, and a club team, which did not. The club team could practice and play games out of season as long as it raised its own money and kept its accounts separate. The club team also was prohibited from wearing FPC colors or names.

Ryan Andrews is the lacrosse coach at FPC, for both teams. He organized club team activities, including the $150 fee charged each student who’d be part of the club team. Andrews was severely reprimanded by FPC Principal Jacob Oliva in a written Dec. 17 letter of reprimand that outlines Ryan’s failure to follow policies. “You are directed to cease such conduct immediately,” the letter reads, “and to adhere to the policies and procedures pertaining to internal funds. If this type of behavior continues, it will be recommended that further disciplinary action be sought after including possible suspension and/or even termination.”

That money was going into the same account as the high school’s athletic team account, which is, in fact, the FPC athletic department’s account (with a numeral designation for each sport). And the club team was wearing FPC’s insignia.

Donna Raposa, a parent whose son was on both teams, reported the matter after her son was removed from the club team, and she asked for a refund. “I found out in an oddball way,” Raposa said of the discovery of improprieties. “This is not just a lacrosse issue. This is across the board.” She stressed: “The children didn’t do anything wrong.” But the fine was reflecting badly on the school and, ultimately, and unfairly, on the students.

Raposa raised the matter of financial improprieties assiduously, through documented emails, phone calls and meetings with school and district officials. Along the way, she also noted that of about $5,000 paid into the account by parents at one point, only half had made it. The other half appeared in the account only when she raised the issue of the missing money, Raposa said. The questions and the meetings led the high school athletic department, headed by Steve DeAugustino, to correct the improprieties and report them to the Florida High School Athletic Association.

It also led the Flagler County School Board to adopt a new policy on athletic teams and booster clubs: each team is now required to have its own separate booster club, and to keep fund-raising money separate from school revenue.

“Because the high school acted immediately,” says Kristy Gavin, the Flagler County School Board’s attorney, “the fine that we received was the minimum fine they could asses.”

FPC–not the lacrosse team–was fined $2,500. FPC was also reprimanded with an official letter of censure from the FHSAA, and the FPC boys lacrosse program was placed on administrative probation until June 2012, “the least severe of probation that may be issued by this office,” the FHSAA wrote FPC Principal Jacob Oliva.

“The fine could have been $10,000, when I added it all up,” DeAugustino said, referring to a potential $250 fine per student that the association could have levied. There are more than 40 students involved. “But because of the actions that the school took, we got fined the minimum.” In more serious circumstances, the team could have been booted out of state competition for up to three years, or been forced to forfeit games.

In an email to Flagler High School Principal Jacob Oliva sent last month, Raposa raised another issue: she claimed the fine “was then taken out of the lacrosse fundraising account – the money raised by parents for their children, not to bail the Athletic Department out of trouble for their wrongdoing.”

Gavin said the athletic department was not in the wrong. Rather, one of its coaches was operating outside the authority of the department, which corrected the matter once it was brought to light. Gavin was unaware of the fine being paid out of the lacrosse team’s account.

“We haven’t paid anything yet,” DeAugustino said, and there is no money in the lacrosse team’s account for that fine to be paid out of it.

Raposa, however, who attended the lacrosse team’s end-of-year banquet two weeks ago, said parents were told then that the fine had been paid, though it wasn’t clear out of what account.

On Tuesday (May 10), Anita Bertha, president of the lacrosse team’s booster club, which was established this year, clarified: the booster club ran a booth at the races in Daytona Beach–a booth that the FPC boys’ team has had at the races as a fund-raising arm. The club expects a $3,400 check from fund-raising there. It will then donate $2,500 to the school to cover the cost of the fine.

Bertha said the boys on the team should not be penalized for the athletic department’s mistake. “Ultimately,” she said, “it falls on the athletic director.” But the club agreed to donate the money to ensure that the team goes on. In essence, the booster club is covering the cost of an infraction committed by the school.

The fine is due by July. DeAugustino said paying it out of the lacrosse team’s account—if there was money in it—would not be inappropriate, since that account is not just fund-raising by parents, but gate receipts and other revenue generated by the athletic department, that the department lets teams use at their discretion. But that’s not what’s taking place.

The athletic department has never faced a fine in the four years DeAugustino has been at its helm, DeAugustino said—other than small fines players incur on the field for foul play, such as an automatic fine charged a player who commits a particularly grave foul in soccer, for example. The department is at the end of its various seasons, its funds largely depleted for having “covered everything,” DeAugustino said. “We’re going to have to pay it somehow,” he said of the $2,500.

Raposa’s son has been playing lacrosse for three years. He was on the school’s team and on the club team. Last October, during a club-team tournament at Matanzas, Raposa’s son walked off the field after a brawl, in which she says he was not involved. The brawl was triggered after another player’s injury led to mouthing off by players, then by parents. Parents got involved in the brawl as well, which turned ugly. Both teams on the field that day, incidentally, were kicked out of the tournament. Seeing that, Raposa decided to pull her son out of the club team and get a refund, which eventually led to her uncovering the inconsistencies in the accounts.

Her son was also booted out of the lacrosse team in January, after he showed up on the first day of practice without some of his equipment. But he subsequently made the team the next day, stayed on the team all year and, according to Raposa, “had a great year.”

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16 Responses for “Florida’s FHSAA Slaps $2,500 Fine on FPC Lacrosse Team; Questions Arise About Payment”

  1. InvestigateFlaglerSports says:

    What ever happened to the investigation of the hazing that occurred with the Matanzas lacrosse team. I think fine are too low on any of the sports teams or players. If they can’t pay then they shouldn’t be allowed to play and learn to play by the rules.

  2. PC Dad says:

    The coach who was ultimately responsible for the actions of the players, the mismangement of funds and allowing the club team to wear FPC insignias/gear MUST be required to pay this out of his own pocket. If he can not, the school must sever ALL ties with him and not allow him ANY contact with students. His mistake. His fine. His responsibility.

  3. PC Resident says:

    ACTUALLY….the coach was originally unaware that this was mismanagement of funds and immediately tried to correct his mistake once brought to his attention. This problem was across the board with all of the club sports, not solely the lacrosse team. It was an issue that should have been corrected years ago and was only recently brought to light. As a school athletic department, they should not have deposited the funds into the school account knowing that it was for the club team. Once this mistake was brought to attention, it was IMMEDIATELY corrected. As an athletic coach, you look to your Athletic Director for guidance, which he did and corrective action was taken. The coach is a human being who gives his life to his team and has for years. He made a mistake which was immediately corrected. This parent went on a daily witch hunt after him, not resting even when it was being corrected. It also is not noted anywhere in this article that the son of this parent actually walked off the field in the middle of the game after verbally yelling at another coach and therefore quitting the team. It also is not mentioned that he was asked to do something specific during that first day of try outs which he did the opposite and therefore was asked to leave with other players. It seems to me that this is a one sided article that does not shed any light on what a great coach Ryan Andrews is and how hard he worked to overcome this obstacle that threatened his entire teaching career. He is one person who deeply cares about his players as well as his students.

  4. Donna Raposa says:

    ACTUALLY – I agree, the blame should, in fact, rest on the shoulders of the Athletic Director. This community pays a person to be certain that the rules are followed correctly. This situation would never have happened had that person done his job. I also agree, as I was quoted, that this is not unique to the lacrosse team. A little investigation into the accounts of the Athletic Department for prior years would undoubtedly show the mingling of funds and on/off season teams has been going on for quite some time. The excuse given me in the beginning of this entire fiasco was that it was ‘easier’. Sorry – rules are rules and you cannot decide to just break them at your own discretion and put the children in jeopardy to make your job easier. If the Director’s job is too difficult for him to do correctly then perhaps he should resign instead.
    The players should never have been put in the position they were placed in. This fine does not belong to the players or their parents, it rests solely on the shoulders of the Athletic Department. The fine was levied against them for their failure to do the right thing. To take the money out of the lacrosse account – most of which has been put there by fundraising efforts of the parents, should not even be an option.

  5. Lax parent says:

    Donna rapossa has nohing to do with fpc lacrosse, as her son is graduating. It is ironic how concerned she is with the fundraising efforts of the parents, as she did not participate in even one. We agree with PC resident, that flagler lacrosse is lucky to have coach ryan andrews. He is dedicated and selfless and cares only about developing the sport and the players. He puts in countless hours throughout the year, in addition to his teaching duties, and as many people can attest, both are thankless jobs. Why is there never any mention of the fact that because of this program lives have been literally transformed, through many athletic scholarships for the young men coming out of his program? It’s time to give it a rest and move onto your next lawsuit.

  6. Grace Johnson says:

    The Coach doth protest too much, methinks.

  7. Andrea says:

    I’m not the parent of any child involved in PC Lacrosse. But I am a concerned parent, nonetheless. Having read the article, and it’s subsequent feedback, I find it comical, bordering on the ABSURD, that Lax Parent would even think his/her statement had any basis of intelligence. Humorous. Oh, so your child must be one of the STAR athletes on the team, either that, or your relationship is a bit closer to Mr. Andrews than we would suspect? Or…maybe you ARE Mr. Andrew’s, hiding behind a screen name. Kudos to Mrs. Raposa for exposing misappropriation of funds. The fine should lay squarely on the shoulders of the offenders. It’s a very sad day when misdeeds and unlawful acts are APPLAUDED by those, who are only too willing to bend over, for the advancement of their children. “It’s time to give it a rest and move onto your next lawsuit.” Wow,what a very poignant statement to make. It’s moronic. As for Mrs. Raposa not participating in a single fundraising event, I can’t say whether she did or did not, but what the HECK does that have to do with the mismanagement of funds?? Get a clue, Lax Parent, or better yet, get an education.

  8. Andrea says:

    BTW, PC Resident? Apparently, ALSO a close and personal friend of Coach Andrews. It’s one thing to voice your opinion in opposition of what occurred, quite another to lash out and attack her SON. That shows great depth of character on your part, and a tremendous amount of class. Bravo! Another stand up citizen, willing to look the other way when something illegal is taking place…all for the benefit of brown-nosing the “coach.” What an outstanding group of conscientious parents. My opinion? Mr. Ryan Andrews should, in fact, lose the coaching position.

  9. Lax parent says:

    Hey Andi, It’s me, Lax Parent! No, not Coach Andrews. Not even a friend. Everyone has an opinion. I’m sleeping better at night, just knowing you’re out there being concerned about catching the criminal coaches in the community. Thanks! Heard The Wizard of Oz is at the Flagler Auditorium. Why don’t we go together? We can go straight to the wizard. I can get a brain, and you can get a heart!

  10. Football Dad says:

    Pierre please look into the firing of Steve Allen and the hiring of Campana as head football coach a week and a half later. Was the position advertised? Steve is an excellent coach was the firing necessary? Ask any kid on the team or parent who they would rather have as the coach? Is the AD  gonna fire the lacrosse coach? Is Oliva gonna fire the AD? I wonder was it all above reproach? It seems awful funny how it happened and it went down so quick. In DeLand  I seem to remember it took some time to go through the applicants was there any at FPC? Or did  DeAugustino just hire his friend as a favor. As far as the fine goes DeAugustino should have to pay the fine out of his overpaid pocket. And  a full audit should be done and see what else he screwed up. Coach Allen we miss, we won’t miss these other clowns.   

  11. S Robinson says:

    Here! Here! I totally agree with Football Dad.

  12. High School Football Fan says:

    Football dad is right about investigating the hiring of Campana. I must correct one thing, Steve Allen was not fired he resigned although everyone knows thier was no love lost between Allen and DeAugustino. My question about hiring Campana would be, how many external canidates were interviewed before the rapid hiring of Campana ( about a week and a half after Allen resigned If I remember correctly). Deland, Pine Ridge, Father Lopez and Mainland all hired new coaches, 2 from out of state. These other schools all followed a process of applicants and interviews. These four schools hired coaches that were current head coaches, Campana hasn’t been a head coach for several years. Looks like another back door deal by DeAugustino hiring his buddy. This guy is out of control and if new principal Oliva wants integrity in his schools sports programs he better get this guy under control or fire him. This needs to be looked into.

  13. Liana G says:

    nepotism and cronyism very much alive and well still!

  14. Another lacrosse parent says:

    I’m a parent of a lacrosse student, who plays both club ball and high school and absolutely loves this sport. I think this whole ordeal stinks from both ends. You have a parent complaining after their son has trouble on the team, then you have the team suffering the consequences of breaking a RULE, not a law and therefore paying out of pocket $2500. The only people suffering from all of this is simply, our children. With all of the cuts our school sports are suffering- $2500 is murderous, and who is really paying the fine? I don’t care who’s pockets, either way it comes out of ours and at the expense of our children. So, all I have to say is to ALL involved, from the whistleblower to the one who is taking responsibility is thanks and I hope your proud. This was only a simple rule violation of the FHSAA, not a crime and I think it had or was corrected quickly. As I remember the booster club was created within weeks of our first meeting.

  15. craig welty says:

    Football dad has it right. Deaugustino ran Allen off because as long as Allen was there Deaugustinos legacy as the best coach to have coached at FPC was in danger of vanishing. Allen was popular, talented, cared about the kids and placed over 50 in college, and a WINNER as a man and a coach. Deaugustino is a jealous CLOWN. Everybody knows this but he and his brother helped Jacob Olivas quick ascent to Prinipalship so he feels beholden to them. Yes cronyism at its best.

  16. Another Lax Parent says:

    To put things straight here; . The Lacrosse booster club donated the entire fundraising check to FPC Boys Lacrosse Team to help cover the fine. That money should not have come from either of the lacrosse teams’ school or club. The school should have taken care of the fine. The Athletic director autumnally is the person at fault here. He has the rules and MUST make sure ALL Coaches and their staff knows these rules. This is why he gets paid to ride around on his little gulf cart collecting gate and concession money at the end of each game. The teams do not get a receipt from him of the funds collected; therefore he was trusted to make sure the money goes to the right sports team account. Coach Andrews is one of the finest coaches I have seen in years and I have seen plenty of Lacrosse coaches. Once he learned about the problem he quickly had it corrected. The Flagler Lacrosse Boosters Club was formed within days. So let’s make sure that FPC refunds the boys’ lacrosse team the $2500.00 fine that was paid out. For all the parents who participated during any of the fundraising events this lax parent thanks you.
    Andrea, you are so wrong with your statement, if you do not know the facts then you should not respond to the article. Ms. Raposa was acting in the defense of her child as any parent would. The fact that she found a mistake was unfortunate for all involved, but it WAS corrected immediately. There is so much more to this story that only the people involved know. The accounting department for FPC is the only one who really knows how the funds were deposited and withdrawn. I do know that there is only one bank account for FPS sports and all the money collected from all the games goes into that one account. The simple fact that the accountant is supposed to keep track of which team deposits how much money each night would require further investigations of his/her books. This way when the school needs to make a purchase for that team he/she knows how much money that team really has. I have said enough, please in the future if you are responding to an article make sure you know what you are talking about.

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