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Palm Beach Post (Florida)
Pahokee will make its case today to the Florida High School Athletic Association in an effort to retain the Class 1A state football championship it won in December.
The Blue Devils' appeal will be heard this morning by the organization's infractions committee, which reviews major violations. It is expected to be conducted by phone. There is no timetable for when the committee will deliver its decision.
If the appeal is rejected, the school has 10 days to inform the FHSAA whether it plans to appeal to the Board of Directors.
The FHSAA stripped the Blue Devils of the state title and all 14 of its wins from last season on Jan. 16 after it determined the school used an ineligible player.
The school also was ordered to pay a $1,400 fine -- $100 per contest -- of which $400 was due immediately. The remainder will be set aside until June 1.
According to the FHSAA, the player entered the ninth grade in August 2012, making 2016-17 his fifth year.
The player is a student at Everglades Preparatory Academy, which is a charter school in Pahokee.
He was participating for the Pahokee football team as a non-traditional student.
The school was notified of allegations relating to the ineligible player Jan. 5, and immediately began an investigation. Administrators self-reported their findings to the FHSAA.
Pahokee was found to be in violation of an FHSAA bylaw that states that a high school student has four consecutive years of eligibility beginning with the school year he or she begins the ninth grade for the first time.
Principal Michael Aronson told the Post last month that a data-entry error resulted in an extra year of play.
The Blue Devils (14-0) defeated Baker 34-21 to win the Class 1A championship.
Pahokee appealed the FHSAA's initial ruling Jan. 26.
The school will have to return its championship trophy if it does not retain the state title, but the players will get to keep their individual medals.
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