By Kyle LoJacono
The Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) has reduced the fines levied against Wiregrass Ranch High involving illegal recruiting within the Bulls girls basketball program. FHSAA spokesman Seth Polansky said the school will only have to pay a total of $6,275.
Wiregrass Ranch was originally fined $12,525 for 10 violations. Principal Ray Bonti sent a letter to the FHSAA that included six corrective actions his school was taking as a result of the investigation into the Bulls’ program. The letter asked for leniency in the fines, but did not appeal any of the findings by the FHSAA.
Polansky said FHSAA executive director Roger Dearing and associate executive director Denarvise Thornton cut the fines because of the actions taken by the Bulls, which included new policies to use Wiregrass Ranch facilities as well as members of the athletic program taking compliance seminars.
Wiregrass Ranch was originally given four $2,500 fines, a $400 fine and had to pay back the FHSAA $2,125, which is half the money spent to conduct its investigation. The new total fine of $6,275 includes the money needed to probe into the Bulls’ program.
The investigation into Wiregrass Ranch girls basketball involved the illegal recruitment of Briahanna Jackson, who attended the school at the end of her junior and beginning of her senior years. She has since graduated from Freedom High in Hillsborough County.
Jackson will attend IMG Basketball Academy in Bradenton on a full scholarship this year, which will allow her to continue growing as a basketball player while taking classes designed to help on college entrance exams, according to her mother Cathleen Grippe.
Of the violations, Wiregrass Ranch girls basketball coach Greg Finkel, who has coached the program since the school opened five years ago, was found to have falsified information given to the FHSAA and was not fully cooperative with the investigation.
Finkel resigned as the Bulls coach on July 7, but will remain as a driver’s education instructor. He said he has been a coach for the last 20 years.
Wiregrass Ranch’s athletic program is on probation for one year, ending June 1, 2012. The Bulls girls basketball program received two years of probation, ending June 1, 2013, and was also forced to forfeit two games Jackson played in during the 2010-11 season.