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.
"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.