What Hernando High and Principal Ken Pritz claim was a sleepover has been labeled a recruiting violation by the FHSAA.
Hernando learned on Wednesday that it has been fined $2,500 and reprimanded by the state's governing body for an incident involving an undisclosed football player.
According to school officials, the issue stems from a former Pasco High student who transferred to Hernando last summer for his senior year.
The student, who attended Parrott Middle School, is a close friend of recent Hernando graduate and former football player Zach Pritz, the son of Ken Pritz.
"Basically he and a bunch of kids slept overnight at Ken's house," Hernando assistant principal Brent Gaustad said.
But the FHSAA has deemed the player staying at the Pritz home as an "impermissible benefit."
Gaustad insisted the transfer was cleared on all fronts. Hernando was fined an additional $100 for improper paperwork, but Gaustad said that had to do with the lack of notarization of a form that was otherwise filled out and signed.
Jim Ward, who was athletic director at Pasco High at the time, backed up Gaustad's assertion.
"He was not recruited," Ward said of the player in question. "The father wanted to transfer him over there. His older brother had played there. His dad owns a restaurant in Ridge Manor. We knew that. We didn't have a problem with it."
Reached by phone in North Carolina, Ken Pritz defended his actions and stated his belief that no violation had occurred.
"All the appropriate paperwork was filled out," Pritz said. "I've had kids stay at my house for 32 years. I've raised six sons and five have gone through Hernando High. Our house has always been open to kids.
"My biggest concern was I don't want to see the football team get a black eye because somebody thinks the principal is recruiting. But it is what is and we've got to go through the process."
Half the $2,500 fine will be waived if there are no further recruiting violations within the next year. Still, the school intends to appeal the FHSAA's decision.
"We'll give our side and bring out all the facts," Gaustad said. "They interpreted it that way. We think it's wrong."