Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Potter's House Penalty Softened; FHSAA Reinstates Two of Five Players, Clears Girls Basketball Team for This Year's Playoffs

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Potter's House Penalty Softened; FHSAA Reinstates Two of Five Players, Clears Girls Basketball Team for This Year's Playoffs

Article excerpt

Byline: ZACHARY SPAIN

Two days after it handed Potter's House Christian Academy a three- year postseason ban and a $5,000 fine for violations in the girls basketball program, the Florida High School Athletic Association softened its penalties Wednesday.

After hearing the school's appeal Tuesday, FHSAA commissioner John A. Stewart reinstated two of the five players previously ineligible and cleared Potter's House to participate in the postseason tournament, which begins today.

On Monday, the FHSAA ruled sophomore DaShauna Truss, eighth-graders Shalethia Stringfield, Brittany Rountree and Loliya Briggs, and seventh-grader Antoinette Bannister ineligible after an investigation concluded they transferred to the school to follow Tony Bannister, the coach who led their Shekinah Christian team to the Class A state championship last season.

Bannister, who wasn't retained by Shekinah Christian, had been hired by Potter's House, although not as girls basketball coach.

FHSAA rules prohibit a player from following his or her coach from one school to another without a change in address within one year from the date of enrollment at the new school.

That led to forfeiture of games in which ineligible players participated and immediate prohibition from the postseason tournament, in playing out-of-state opponents and in taking part in preseason classics through the 2008-09 school year. And it ended a possible state championship run for the Lions, who were 22-0 and ranked No. 1 in Class A.

But Potter's House filed an appeal almost immediately, and several representatives from the school were at the FHSAA offices in Gainesville on Tuesday. School founder Bishop Vaughn McLaughlin was joined by two administrators, legal counsel, Tony Bannister and the five players, when they made their presentation to Stewart and associate commissioner Sonny Hester. …

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