GULFPORT - The Boca Ciega boys basketball team will forfeit every game fifth-year senior Marquel Brooks played in last season after the forward recently dropped his lawsuit against the Florida High School Athletic Association.
Brooks sued last spring, claiming economic hardship had cost him a year of athletics. He was allowed to play midway through the season after Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Anthony Rondolino ruled in his favor.
The FHSAA, however, appealed, arguing Brooks did not miss any time at school and therefore should have graduated in four years, ending his athletic eligibility.
The FHSAA had denied Brooks' original request for an extra year before the player's parents filed suit.
With the case dropped, Brooks and Bogie are back under FHSAA rules, which stated Brooks did not have any eligibility remaining.
Instead of a final record of 15-11, the Pirates will go down as 3-23.
"If anything like this does occur, then in our bylaws we state that whatever the penalty was, we would be go back and put things as they should be," FHSAA spokesman Jack Watford said. "He was ineligible. And if you play an ineligible player, you forfeit games.
"Every game he played in under the protection of the court, as soon as that protection is gone we go back and according to our bylaws the school has to forfeit every one of those games."
Brooks finished the season averaging about 15 points and was one of the county's top players in 2002-2003, earning All-County honors. Boca Ciega advanced to the district semifinals last year before losing to St. Petersburg as Brooks capped his high school career with 30 points.
"We followed FHSAA procedure to get him eligible; that we do on behalf of the parents who asked us," said then- coach Bob Medici, also the school's athletics coordinator. "If a parent and a student request it, we follow through. We did what we can do. Then after that, the lawsuit was something the student brought forward."
Medici said Brooks is currently enrolled at St. Petersburg College.