One of the longest-serving high school football coaches in the Southeast has been hit with a six-week suspension in the middle of the season amidst an investigation into impermissable benefits for one of his players.
While the violation being cited by the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) may sound like a significant one — student-athletes are not allowed to receive special treatment that isn’t afforded to other students at the school — the reasons for Tampa Plant coach Robert Weiner to actively seek out the benefits themselves may have been altruistic; according to the Tampa Bay Times, Weiner sought out alternative housing for a player whose living situation had become “untenable.”
Indeed, Weiner defended his actions as being in the best interest of one of his players, something he feels is more important than coaching strictly by the rules.
“I would probably be disingenuous if I said I didn’t know that was a rule,” Weiner told the Tampa Bay Times. “My thought at the moment was I have to think about the kid.
“When you go back and say, ‘Would you do this again?’ It depends on what you mean by this. My charge for 33 years (as an assistant and head coach) has been to take care of kids. I like to think that we’ve done that in a really sincere way.”
Weiner and Plant are planning an appeal of the decision, but that will not be heard until next week, after Plant’s pivotal district matchup with undefeated Steinbrenner High School (Tampa, Fla.). Until then, the Panthers will be coached by Greg Myers, one of the team’s assistant coaches.
If Plant loses, it will end a remarkable streak of 14 consecutive seasons without a loss in district play.