Providence School reprimanded, fined over recruiting violations, FHSAA says

Report: School admitted unqualified student, improperly paid another's tuition

By Tarik Minor - Anchor, I-TEAM reporter, Vic Micolucci - I-TEAM reporter, anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Providence School of Jacksonville, a prominent private school on the city's Southside, is in trouble with the state's high school athletics association.

In a 14-page report, the Florida High School Athletic Association said the school played ineligible players and committed other violations, prompting a reprimand and a $11,750 fine.

READ: FHSAA report on Providence School violations

Providence will also have to forfeit all wins for the 2015-2016 season by the boys' varsity basketball team and the girls' JV volleyball team, the FHSAA said.

During that school year, the Providence boys' varsity basketball team finished with a record of 17-5-1, finishing with the best record in their five-team district, a district that included Bishop Snyder, University Christian, Trinity Christian and Saint Joseph Academy. During the playoffs, Providence beat Rocky Bayou Christian form Niceville, and Trinity Christian, before losing in the regional finals to First Academy of Orlando.

That same school year, the Providence volleyball team went 11-6, winning their district that included the same schools as the basketball team, plus the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind. In the playoffs, Providence advanced to the regional semi-finals before losing to Maclay from Tallahassee.

The report said Providence played a player who didn't meet academic requirements and improperly paid for another student-athlete's tuition, violating the association's recruiting policy. The school also allowed outside teams to use its athletic facilities for baseball, basketball and volleyball, according to the report.

READ: The letter sent from Providence to opposing schools regarding forfeits

Providence was fined $117,500, but $105,750 of that is being held off, provided the school does not have further violations before June 30, 2018, which will be the end of the school's probation period, the FHSAA said.

Providence initially appealed the sanctions, but the appeal was denied.

Providence School headmaster Don Barfield has denied the school did anything wrong, saying the school did not violate the rules but has now agreed to the sanctions and fines to avoid a potentially financially draining appeals process.

READ: Providence letter to parents about sanctions

In a letter sent to Providence parents, Barfield said the school continues to be a member in good standing with the FHSAA.

"FHSAA agrees that Providence School has fully cooperated with their review and recognizes that the school has a great history with their organization. Both organizations will continue to develop a strong working relationship."

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