SEFFNER, Fla. - On the last day, at the last moment possible, Armwood High School principal Michael Ippolito asked for and received a one week delay to respond to an investigation by the Florida High School Athletic Association.
"There are a couple of questions we wanted clarification on," said Steve Hegarty of the Hillsborough County School Board. "For instance, there's one question about all the students who transferred into Armwood. We think that means all the students who were involved in athletics but we need clarification."
At stake is Armwood's 6A state football championship.
It was an I-Team Investigation last fall which prompted the state probe after we uncovered that the parents of Senior Jack Lightsey failed to make a required "full and complete" move from their Orlando home and falsified documents claiming a small apartment near the school was the new family residence.
The ensuing state investigation confirmed what was reported and found Lightsey was ineligible to play for Armwood during its championship season.
Sonny Hester is the former head of compliance for the FHSAA and said, "It's exactly with the evidence you provided and the rules in place, were in place. There was no other conclusion that could be made."
But the state investigation also found four other players falsified documents to enroll at the school. In one case, a utility bill was manufactured to claim residence.
The lawyer representing some of the implicated players said they will appeal.
"They will bring lawyers. There will be friends. They will say anything they can to get through that committee," Hester says.
Despite the delay, the I-Team has been told by sources that a deal is already in place for Armwood to forfeit its state championship and make other moves to mitigate what could be tens of thousands of dollars in fines.
The school board says those moves will be announced when it issues an official response.