Naugatuck’s investigation into the recruitment of David Coggins and Javon Martin concluded Tuesday and the resulting report was released to the public at a special Board of Education that evening. If you’d like to read the full report (courtesy of the Naugatuck Patch), click here.
I’ve condensed 80 pages of the report and evidence into this summary (main points are underlined):
- The investigation, handled by independent attorney Ned Fitzpatrick, interviewed a number of relevant parties including: Former Naugatuck coach Rob Plasky, Naugatuck athletic director Tom Pompei, Naugatuck High School Football Alumni Association co-founder Frank Johnson Jr., Meme Martin, Sacred Heart principal Anthony Azzara, Naugatuck principal Janice Saam and several Naugatuck assistant coaches. Of note, neither player was interviewed and are not referred to by name (although it is very easy to identify both using details).
- Coggins and Martin began asking their mother to transfer out of Sacred Heart starting in their sophomore years (2010-11). The family needed to work out a payment plan for several years for the students to remain at the school. When former Sacred Heart coach Chris Ortiz resigned in May, Meme Martin “decided it was time to leave Waterbury and enroll her children in another school district.” She inquired to Pompei and Naugatuck administration about transferring there because her boys “had friends there” and “it seemed like a perfect fit for our family.”
- The students shadowed at Naugatuck in June and met with Plasky, who suggested they attend the team’s summer football camp (at Central Connecticut State University). Meme Martin contacted Plasky later that month about arranging to attend the camp but Pompei confirmed with the CIAC that the players could not attend the camp with Naugatuck until they were enrolled at school. They attended independently but Plasky paid for their participation (although his reimbursement is disputed in the report).
- Meme Martin contacted Plasky several times throughout July to update him on the family’s situation. The report states Martin “apparently looked at Coach Plasky as someone she could trust” because she had “little or no other family to turn to for support.” In late July and early August, Pompei instructed Plasky to refer Martin’s questions to Naugatuck administrators.
- In early August, Martin called Plasky and said she was “in desperate need of some guidance” because her husband couldn’t pay the outstanding tuition to Sacred Heart and her medical condition was worsening. After Plasky told Martin he could not help her, he said he would ask Johnson and the NHSFAA to help.
- On Aug. 11, Plasky and Johnson met with Martin and the NHSFAA loaned her $1,000 to be used toward paying off the outstanding tuition. Johnson told the investigation that the loan was made “in the spirit of a number of other opportunities over the past 11 years where NHSFAA helped other individuals and families in need” and that “although she is not required to do so, if she was ever in a position to pay back some or all of the money, NHSFAA could continue to help other folks in a similar predicament.” Johnson stated in the report he believed the boys “were fully coming to Naugatuck High School.”
- The report notes that “the three parties involved in this 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.” In addition, it says “at no point during this meeting did it occur to [Plasky or Johnson] 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.”
- Azzara contacted Pompei to notify him of the transfer, calling them “high-profile” transfers and that he would be monitoring the situation and reporting it to the CIAC if the family did not move to Naugatuck.
- Johnson became suspicious of his and Plasky’s potential wrongdoing when reading comments on this article by Mark Jaffee in the Republican-American and then reading our blog. Johnson talked to Plasky about the potential violation, and in turn both talked to lawyers who agreed that there likely existed some violation. Johnson reported the situation to Pompei, and all three met at Naugatuck High on the night of Aug. 20. Plasky was placed on administrative leave Aug. 22 and resigned Aug. 23. The CIAC was notified of the potential violations Aug. 24.
- The investigation concluded that “there exists a patent, gross violation(s)” of CIAC rules and that the “funds would not have been provided to Ms. Martin but for the significant skill and talents exhibited by at least one of the student-athletes.” Not only was the $1,000 check a violation, but the payment for CCSU camp registration was also a violation. The report concluded that the contact between Plasky and Martin throughout the summer was not a violation because Plasky did not initiate any of the contact.
- Perhaps most importantly, the report claims “based on all of the evidence obtained that at no time prior to Aug. 20, 2012, were the student-athletes aware of any special inducement directed to and accepted by Ms. Martin on their behalf.”
- The report recommends better control and training over Naugatuck High’s booster clubs and support organizations, as Pompei suggested to me last week. The report also concludes “there is no evidence of a systemic or habitual pattern of abuse of the CIAC bylaws with regard to recruitment of other student-athletes.”
So now all that’s left is for the CIAC to rule on the penalties to Naugatuck and the eligibility of Coggins and Martin. We still do not know for sure when the CIAC will make its rulings but it now has a copy of the report.
Naugatuck faces a potential fine, probation, postseason ban and a suspension of the athletics program. It’s hard to see either of the latter two sanctions being levied but we can’t rule out anything.
If the decision on Coggins and Martin doesn’t come down before Sacred Heart’s Week 1 game against Woodland on Sept. 13, we have to wonder whether or not they will be held out of the game in case they are ruled ineligible later this month. If they play and they’re ruled ineligible, Sacred Heart would likely forfeit the game.
CIAC Executive Director Karissa Niehoff told the Republican-American on Wednesday neither Coggins nor Martin can play any games until the Board of Control makes a decision on their eligibility, which will come at its Sept. 20 meeting.
The Board of Control will not only decide their eligibility, but also determine whether there was one or multiple violations, and whether those violations will be multiplied because two students were involved. Fines could be applied individually to each violation, meaning they could exceed the $10,000 limit for one violation.
Niehoff called the violations “pretty egregious.”