SEFFNER, Florida - Tuesday was a tough day for those involved in the Armwood High School football program.
After a nearly six-month investigation by the Florida High School Athletic Association, they not only have to forfeit nearly every game from the past two years, but they were stripped of last year's state title as well.
The main penalties are outlined in a 16-page document released on Tuesday. Not only does the school have to forfeit any game in which the ineligible players were participants, but they've been placed on probation for three years and must pay fines and investigation fees totalling a little over $12,000.
10 News spoke with the mother of a current Armwood High School football player. She's afraid her son may be penalized for her words, so we agreed not to reveal their identities.
She says, "I think it's ridiculous. I can't believe it's fallen to the kids' level. I think it's something that should have been kept between the parents and the administrators to work out."
She adds, "The handful of children that were ineligible didn't win these games alone. It took the whole team."
The mother says it's unfortunate that the entire team has to suffer when most of them did nothing wrong. She says, "We are telling the children repetively to keep their chins up. They earned it. They won these games. This is just something that happens in life."
Over at the Brandon Clubhouse Sports Café, customers are weighing in on the punishment.
John Strohmeyer says, "Well, I think it's unfortunate because what we're looking at is what five or six kids possibly and yet there's another 40 that's worked their butts off and they get this?"
Bartender Mike Parris says, "'Cause the only one who is going to take the brunt of it is the kids that are going to be playing next year and the kids that won the title this year."
A spokesperson with the Hillsborough County School district says they're going to beef up the rules in hopes that this never happens again.
Steve Hegarty says, "We're going to ask for more verification in the future so you'll have to make it very, very clear that you live where you say that you live."
Hegarty says the school district will have to pay about half of the $12,000 fine, but taxpayer money will not be used and the money won't come out of any other school programs.
The parents and students named in the investigation will have to fork over the rest of the fine, which Hegarty says could have been much worse. He says it could have been as high as $195,000.
Tammie Fields, 10 News