Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

FHSAA: Mooney's Star Player Ineligible

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

FHSAA: Mooney's Star Player Ineligible

Article excerpt

SARASOTA

VIOLATION: Freshman to sit out remainder of the season for playing in a spring league

Antonio Blakeney, Cardinal Mooney's star freshman basketball player, has been declared ineligible for the remainder of the regular season and tournaments by the Florida High School Activities Association.

Blakeney and freshman varsity teammate Justin Najmy were declared ineligible along with five freshman junior varsity players because they violated an FHSAA by-law last year by playing for a spring traveling basketball team whose manager, Dave McMahon, is a part- time assistant junior varsity coach at Cardinal Mooney.

Cardinal Mooney boys basketball coach Stefan Gates said McMahon, whose son, Ryan McMahon, is also among the players declared ineligible, said he was unaware that coaching a summer team is a violation of FHSAA rules, "or he wouldn't have done it," Gates said.

However, Michael Colby, the FHSAA director of eligibility, said that it is the responsibility of Cardinal Mooney administrators to make their coaches aware of the by-law.

"The rule is to prevent recruiting," Colby said. "That's not to say that in every one of these instances that's what's happened. That's why we have an appeal procedure to allow the students and their families to give reasons why they went. Each of these students were coached by this junior varsity coach and went to Cardinal Mooney the following year."

Colby said the FHSAA responded to an anonymous tip and contacted Cardinal Mooney principal Steve Christie and athletic director Bill Donivan.

"We sent an inquiry to the school and the school self-reported," Colby said. "We inquired about some information concerning certain students from the administration and they verified it."

The school was notified back from the FHSAA, within "probably about a week," Colby said, that the players had to sit out the rest of the season as a penalty for the infraction. …

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