Friday, February 3, 2012

Brad Christian gets top seed after Mooney slammed for violations

The Cardinal Mooney boys basketball team will be missing its star player and a whole lot of victories when the Class 3A-District 10 boys basketball tournament gets underway on Tuesday.

Michael Colby, FHSAA Director of Compliance, said Mooney used players that were deemed ineligible because they violated recruiting rules.

One of those players is freshman phenom Antonio Blakeney, the Cougars leading scorer and best player. Also declared ineligible was freshman Justin Najmy and some players off the Mooney JV team. The team has to forfeit all the games those two played in, the FHSAA said.

Blakeney attended Booker Middle School where he was a prolific scorer and led the team to the Sarasota County Middle School championship.

Colby said the players played on a club team that was coached by a person connected with the Cardinal Mooney basketball program and then followed him to the school, which is considered recruiting.

Colby said his organization received an anonymous tip about a possible violation of FHSAA rules and asked school officials at Cardinal Mooney to look into it.

"They found improprieties and then self reported it and took action," Colby said. "If a player is on a travel ball, club team or AAU team and then follows that coach to the school where the coach has contact with it's a violation of our rules and is considered recruiting. They are ineligible for the rest of the season, but can play next year."

Colby said the players have until Thursday to file an appeal, but the hearing would not be held until March when the season would be over. Cardinal Mooney Athletic Director Bill Donivan would not respond to any questions.

The ruling means Bradenton Christian becomes the top seed in the the three team district tournament, which is being held at Cardinal Mooney.

Out-Of-Door-Academy plays Cardinal Mooney on Tuesday and the winner faces Bradenton Christian Friday night in the district championship game.

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