NHS football pleads case

Published 10:40 am Wednesday, September 26, 2007

By By Matthew Nascone
With every new endeavor comes a few hitches and the Northview High School football team experienced one such hitch with the new steroid law put into effect this year.
Northview was one of around 50 schools that were cited for not turning in a football steroid testing roster, according to the Florida High School Athletic Association Web site Monday afternoon. The accusation was not a fair one according to NHS athletic director Sammy Day.
"The problem was that Florida instituted this steroid drug testing and (the paperwork) was due Aug. 22," Day said. "They (the FHSAA) said we haven't complied yet, but I have our records here that we sent ours in Aug. 13 at 12:24 p.m."
Day and the Chiefs did not hear official word about the past due roster until Monday night before the school's opening district game against Holmes County Bonifay.
"Rather than notifying us that we were past due, they come out the day of a ball game and told us they are going to suspend play," Day said. "We had one email that said they would suspend play immediately and one email that said they would suspend play beginning Sept. 28."
The issue for Day is not one of resending in the information, but finding out what exactly happened.
"I haven't resent it in yet because I want to know what happened to the stuff we sent in to begin with," he said. "I am going to resend it, but I want an explanation because I don't want them to think I am guilty when I am not. I have the proof right here. I want an explanation and for them to say they overlooked it and then I will send it in."
NHS was listed online as one of more than 50 schools not in compliance with s.1006.2(10), Florida Statutes and FHSAA rules requiring member schools participating in football to submit their rosters for steroid testing until late Tuesday afternoon.
NHS principal Gayle Weaver said she wishes the situation was dealt with in a better way.
"I think there could have been a better way to handle the situation if they had thought we in error of not sending in what we were supposed to send in," she said. "I would have appreciated a call or heads up before we were listed among the violators in the state of Florida. Because coach Day's records show we sent in the information at 12:23 p.m. and they received it at 12:24 p.m. and it did not come back as undeliverable, so we have to assume that someone received it and it was sent to the appropriate email address."
Weaver does not like the negative repercussions the event has caused for Northview.
"This whole thing is mind boggling and we are waiting to get removed from the violators list," she said. "Because that does not look good for Northview for us to be on that Web site."
Northview was removed from the list Tuesday afternoon.
The way the Chiefs found out about the mixup was also disturbing for Weaver.
"For our head coach to get a call in his office through the media saying 'You can't play tonight' right before a game that means a lot to us is not the way we want to find out," Weaver said. "Because we always want to beat Bonifay and that harkens back to the coach David Williams days about five years ago."
Day and Weaver can breathe a little easier knowing that the Chiefs are no longer a part of the group of schools not in compliance with the steroid law. The law is in a trial run for the 2007-08 school year.
Florida Gov. Charlie Crist signed the bill into law June 19. The law states that any athlete in football, baseball or weightlifting will be subject to random drug testing. The tested group will represent 1 percent of the athletes involved with the Florida High School Athletic Association.
A positive test would result in a 90-day athletic suspension that can be restored within 60 days if the student tests negative on a follow-up test. A mandatory drug-education program will also be required with a positive test.
And any athlete who does not provide the urine sample would be ineligible for the year. If each student's parents do not sign a consent form, that student is also ineligible.
Florida is not the first state to initiate steroid testing.
The FHSAA could not be reached for comment before deadline.

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