The Providence School of Jacksonville is facing a technical foul. The Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) conducted an investigation that found multiple violations of impermissible benefits.
According to the FHSAA investigation, the Southside-based private school faces forfeiting wins in multiple sports and a $117,500 fine after committing numerous violations, including playing ineligible players and allowing non-school teams to use facilities without proper documentation.
The school was fined $117,500, but $105,750 of that is being held until the end of the school’s probation on June 30, 2018 provided the school doesn’t have any further violations. The investigation started after the FHSAA received an anonymous tip concerning the athletic program at Providence.
In a response to the investigation, the Providence School’s Head of School Don Barfield says the school has a great relationship with the FHSAA and “both organizations will continue to develop a strong working relationship.”
Among the numerous violations are listed in the 14-page report:
- Providence provided impermissible benefits by allowing a student-athlete admission into the school despite the student not meeting the admission requirements or the stipulations of passing the failed Spanish and Geometry courses before being considered for admission for the 2015-16 school year.
- Athletic Recruiting – Impermissible Benefits. In accordance with FHSAA Policy 36.2.3, Providence is fined in the amount of $2,500. However, $2,250 is held in abeyance until June 30, 2018 provided no other violations of occur.
- Providence allowed two ineligible student-athletes to participate in interscholastic athletic contests – one in 31 Boys’ Varsity Basketball contests and the other in 11 Girls’ JV Volleyball contests – during the 2015-16 school year.
The FHSAA says Providence must forfeit all JV girls’ volleyball contests for the 2015-16 season and all boys’ basketball baseball contests and honors for the 2015-16 season the student-athletes participated in. An audit was conducted by the FHSAA on September 22nd, 2016. The investigation report says “based on the information collected at the audit, the FHSAA shared a list of the findings with Providence. The correspondence from the FHSAA identified three areas: exceptional, needs improvement, and critical issues.
In a letter sent home to parents, Barfield writes:
The school submitted documentation to FHSAA, which we believe, substantiates that we did follow the appropriate guidelines to keep our athletic programs in compliance with the FHSAA. However, due to the potential long drawn-out process of appeal, which could have included a financial strain on the school’s budget, the decision was to self-report the violations and accept the penalty imposed by the FHSAA. The alleged violations were related to an impermissible benefit for one varsity athlete and one junior varsity athlete. The other concern was that the school did not have a written facility usage agreement with non-Providence teams. The school continues to be a member in good standing with the FHSAA.
A FHSAA spokesperson says in an email to First Coast News, “We will not be making any statements on it other than what’s in the findings.”