LOCAL PREP STAR CLEARED; HOPEFULLY LESSON LEARNED
The Florida High School Athletic Association announced this afternoon that Lakeland High School star football player Chris Rainey has been cleared of wrongdoing following an investigation into statements he made to the Miami Herald --- which he later recanted --- saying that he accepted cash and gifts and implying they were given because of his status on the team.
The FHSAA report (.pdf version here) noted that their investigator was unable to find anyone who would either corrobrate Rainey's original statement to the Herald reporter or refute his subsequente recantation. Bill Gray, the organization's investigator, conducted interviews in three visits to Lakeland as well as by phone.
The decision means that the Dreadnaughts football team's 5A championship, it's third consecutive state title, will stand, and that Rainey can keep his amateur status. Rainey, a senior, has committed to attend the University of Florida.
Hopefully, the teenage running back learned a very valuable lesson from the experience: Don't ever put yourself into a situation which 1) even gives the appearance of improprierty, or 2) say anything --- even in jest --- that you don't mean. The attention one gets as a running back at Lakeland High School, even if it is a national champion prep football programme, is nothing compared to the defending national champion collegiate Division 1-A team. It's a whoooooole new game, young man, so keep you mind on your grades and what the coaches are teaching ya (a nice way of saying "keep you mind open and your mouth shut"). And, by the way...congratulations and good luck.