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Report: 'Clear Violations of CIAC Bylaws...Not Justifiable'

Naugatuck High School's football coach violated CIAC recruiting rules, according to a self report accepted by the school board Tuesday.

 

NAUGATUCK - An investigation into by the Naugatuck High School football program has unveiled at least three CIAC rules infringements.

A 32-page report given by the town attorney to the Board of Education Tuesday states rules were violated when the school's longtime former football coach gave money to the mother/legal guardian of two standout football players considering a transfer to NHS from a Waterbury private school.

"It is entirely clear that the disbursement of these funds would not have been provided...but for the significant skills and talents of the student-athletes," the report states. (A full copy of the report is attached to this article.)

The Board of Ed. voted unanimously Tuesday to accept the report and submit a copy to the CIAC, which could fine the school district up to $10,000 for each of the three rules violations, and possibly more if the CIAC finds more rules were broken. The school could also face other, more harsh penalties, such as a suspension of the football program and/or other sports.

"We believe that the CIAC will act in a timely manner, and we trust that they will be fair," said Board of Education Chairman Dave Heller, adding that the school district will abide by any penalties the CIAC deems necessary but hopes that student-athletes - those from both Naugatuck and the players who were allegedly recruited from Waterbury - are not adversely affected.

The violations occurred when former NHS Coach Rob Plasky and NHS booster club president Frank Johnson Jr. gave $1,000 to Meme Martin, the mother of Javon Martin and the legal guardian of David Coggins, both standout football players and seniors at Sacred Heart in Waterbury. The money to be put toward paying some of the outstanding private school tuition for the two boys; the debt was prohibiting a transfer to NHS as the school was withholding transcripts for the students until the debt was paid.

According to report, Martin complained about a lack of money and several personal problems, includingh health issues and a pending divorce, to Plasky. The coach contacted Johnson asking if he could help; the two met with Martin in the NHS parking lot on a Saturday afternoon and Johnson wrote her a check for $1,000, the report states. The money came from the account of the NHS Football Alumni Association, which raises money for the football program.

Johnson told investigators that he originally believed he was doing a good deed until he read the CIAC rulebook a few days after giving Martin the check; he said he read it because questions were raised about the transfer on a local football blog. Johnson learned that it was in violation of CIAC rules and told Plasky that they needed to reveal what they had done to NHS Athletic Director Tom Pompei, which they did on Aug. 20. Pompei, who had no prior knowlege of the alleged wrongdoing, immediately took steps to self report its possible violations to the CIAC, the report states. The school system immediately launched an internal investigation overseen by borough attorney Ned Fitzpatrick. Plasky resigned on Aug. 23 after 11 years as coach. 

That investigation concluded that three clear violations occurred:

  1. When Plasky and Johnson gave Martin the $1,000 check;
  2. When Plasky had contact with the mother regarding the possible transfer;
  3. When Plasky paid $355 to send Coggins, Martin and another Sacred Heart player to football camp. (There is a discrepancy over whether Martin's ex-husband gave Plasky $300 to repay some of the debt: Martin says he did while Plasky denies that claim.)

The report, which has dozens of pages of addenda including statements from 12 people with a possible involvement, describes Johnson as distraught over the situation because he thought he was doing the right thing. He wrote in the memo field that the money was a loan and that Martin could pay it back over time to help other students; he said he gave Martin a check because he "wanted it to be on the up and up," according to the report.

"It is worth nothing," the report states. "that the three parties involved in the transaction all expressed that they felt very good about what had transpired and that a good deed was being done for a family in dire need. Mr. Johnson and Coach Plasky stated to this investigator that at no point during this meeting did it occur to either of them that any wrongdoing was being done or that any rules were being broken. The actions of both men were motivated by their generous nature and strong Christian beliefs."

Still, in the end, the CIAC rulebook prohibits their actions.

"The incidents set forth in the above report constitute clear violations of the CIAC Bylaws and are not justifiable," the report's final paragrph reads. "The occurrences, whether motivated by well-meaning individuals engulfed by a combination of exuberance over obtaining a top-rated player, poor judgement, or sympathies for a family in certain distress, necessitate the imposition of structural changes in the relationship of the school (including mandatory training and financial controls) and, at least, football-related booster clubs."

St Nick September 05, 2012 at 11:52 AM
They were motivated by their strong Christian beliefes. God bless them! To the football program and the tax payers go to h@&$.
Grumpy Guy September 05, 2012 at 11:58 AM
Wow, just wow. How could these people NOT know that this would be a violation? Especially Plasky- he was the coach for eleven years- do you mean to tell me that in all those years, he never read the entire CIAC rulebook? I guess it'll have to be required reading for new coaches. If the town gets fined over any of these violations, I hope the alumni association steps up and covers the entire cost even if it empties the bank account.
Jessica September 05, 2012 at 01:36 PM
if they suspend football it will kill my son!! I hope the CIAC looks into Ansonia they do this all the time, they have players that live in waterbury but are "put up" in Ansonia just so they can play football
citizen September 05, 2012 at 02:20 PM
I wish people would get this excited and passionate about academics.
chris September 05, 2012 at 02:56 PM
1- they won't suspend football 2- stop worrying about what other towns "allegedly" do, and worry about what our program "did" do. You people are unreal. The guy got caught paying players, bottom line. End of story. The real losers in the end here are the tax payers, if we get fined for his actions.......high school football moves on
Jeff September 05, 2012 at 03:24 PM
Jessica, if you have specific examples, proof, or evidence of Ansonia or any other school violating CIAC rules I suggest you report them. The article states that the violation occurred when Plasky and Johnson gave Martin the check, had contact with the mother regarding a transfer, and paid for the players to go to football camp. I understand that there are times when players switch schools by changing addresses or staying with a players family. This is certainly a grey area but this is not what caused a rule violation. Rules were broken when money was given to the mother. High school football is a great tool to teach kids dedication, hard work, competitiveness, team work, sportsmanship and discipline as most of these kids will not move on to the next level. Cheating, making unsubstantiated accusations, and blaming others is exactly what we do not want these kids to learn. If your son cannot play football this year he should blame Plasky. And based on some past comments it appears Plasky may have additional violations. Jessica 12:54 pm on Friday, August 24, 2012 Holy cross and sacred heart are soooooo shady! Anyway, coach Palasky paid for my son to go to football camp this past July out of his own pocket. I had no money and he has faith in my son as a player and knew he would benefit from camp. My son and I are very sad and upset to see him go. Now I think it's time to look into ansonia, holy cross, and sacred heart !!!!
eileen kulmann September 05, 2012 at 03:45 PM
Actually, I believe the real losers are the players, you know, the students who work hard to participate in the sport , the teammates who have a goal to succeed and commit themselves to playing a sport AND go to school and try to succeed there too. These are the real losers. So sad for them.
chris September 05, 2012 at 03:53 PM
What are they losing? They are losing a guy who wanted to pay players with more skill to replace them. Maybe I am crazy.....but seems they'll be better off moving forward..........
eileen kulmann September 05, 2012 at 04:23 PM
What are they losing? Their dignity to start with. I know this action is about the coach but it will reflect on them too. They will wear this around their necks for quite a while. They will be known as the team who couldn't make the grade on their own, the team with questionable ability. These kids pay money to be on a sport and work very hard to get there. Think of the senior students who might be looking for a scholarship for college with their athleticism. Well if the team gets suspended or heavily fined, the school may not be able to afford these sport programs this year or even next year. And not only football players, if their is a heavy fine, other sport programs might have to be taken away too. This impacts more students, again who have done anything wrong. These are kids. Yes they are teens but they also are very vulnerable to the world around them. They have no idea of how much this will impact them. This can make them one of two types of kids. They may rally and overcome this insult, or they may break under the pressure and be afraid to pursue their goals. I am not being dramatic. Kids this age are still forming into young adults and are impressionable. I see it often enough.
Fr September 05, 2012 at 04:48 PM
I'm not sure I totally believe everything here. The "litmus test" should be: Does the NHS Alumni Association and or a sports coach routinely provide money to non-athletes going to other schools? I think we all know the answer is "no". It gets down to just what the report said: "It is entirely clear that the disbursement of these funds would not have been provided...but for the significant skills and talents of the student-athletes."
eileen kulmann September 05, 2012 at 05:24 PM
I am not sure the results of your litmus test is an absolute. How can we know for sure the answer is "no". I certainly hope that is the answer, but how DO we ALL know??????
Steve Fainer September 05, 2012 at 07:04 PM
@Jessica if Mr. Plasky paid for your son to go to camp that is also a violation. Perhaps well-meaning, but a violation nonetheless. Naugatuck has had some other shady dealings with transfers in the past...this is nothing new. Remember a couple years ago they had an influx of kids from Waterbury? And won an NVL title? Don't tell me all those kids came here on there own. At least two of them had the same address when they were arrested shortly after the season. Come on, people, wake up.
eileen kulmann September 05, 2012 at 10:41 PM
A very good point. But again, this is not the students fault, yet the student will be the one that loses if the team is suspended or heavily fined.As far as the last part of your email, this does seem questionable yet I'm sure there is a lot of kids that move from town to town all the time. Not just Naugatuck.
Grumpy Guy September 06, 2012 at 12:04 AM
Anybody look up the CIAC rules? Appendix F is pretty interesting reading. Apparently all varsity coaches at a high school MUST sign a document that says they have read the CIAC recruiting policy and agree with it in full. The form thats online now covers the 2012-2013 school year but I wonder how long this form has been in place?

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