tampabay.com

Two-sport star says he will leave Pasco

By IZZY GOULD and FRANK PASTOR
Published July 30, 2005


DADE CITY - Dominic Brown appears to have a new home.

Pasco's two-sport star said Friday he will transfer to a school near his father's Georgia home even if it means losing his final year of athletic eligibility.

Three days before the start of football practice, Brown said there is a "1 percent" chance he will return to Pasco and football no longer is a priority.

"I'm looking forward to staying up here," he said from Lithonia, Ga. "I really don't need to play football anymore. I want to if I can." Brown's mother and sole legal guardian, Rosemary, said Thursday she believed her son would return home, possibly by Monday's practice. Friday, she said she had not spoken with Brown or his father and had no reason to believe his situation had changed.

A 6-foot-5, 185-pound receiver with 4.57 speed in the 40-yard dash, Brown has scholarship offers from numerous Division I-A programs, including Florida State, Nebraska, Tennessee and South Carolina.

He also has a bright future in baseball. A left-hander with a fastball in the mid to high 80s, Brown projects as a 15th- to 20th-round pick who could go in the top 10 rounds if he focused on baseball year-round, said Larry Blustein, publisher of floridakids.us.

Brown and his father, Robert Walker, said they believe it is in his best interest academically and athletically to stay in Georgia, where he is being tutored for college entrance exams.

"I want him to pass the SAT or ACT test as quickly as possible," Walker said. "We know if he passes (either test), he's going to the college of his choice."

Brown wants to attend Redan High in Stone Mountain, which is near his father's home and has a strong baseball program.

Brown traveled to Georgia in June for baseball tournaments and showcases. He told his mother about moving July 21.

Brown's mother continues to fight the move. Wednesday, she declined to sign papers giving sole custody to his father.

"I'm not giving my son away," she said at the time. "I'm not giving up any kind of rights. That might just make him come back."

Walker has consulted attorneys in Florida and Georgia, who are working to schedule an emergency emancipation hearing by Aug.15, the first day of school at Redan.

Walker believes he "won't have a problem getting temporary custody," which he said would free Brown to enroll in school and, he believes, clear him to play sports. If Walker is denied custody, Brown would have to wait until he turns 18 on Sept.3. But without his mother giving up custody, Brown likely would be ineligible for sports.

Students who move from the home of a parent who has custody to one who does not are not eligible for any sport for one calendar year, under the Georgia High School Association's transfer rules. And age is not a factor, GHSA executive director Ralph Swearngin said.

All but two schools governed by the Georgia Independent School Association follow similar rules. The rule would be waived if Brown lived on campus at Riverside Military Academy or Bethesda Day School, but tuition and proximity to his father's home appear problematic.

Rigorous academic standards would seem to keep Brown from attending any school governed by the Christian School Association.

Pasco football coach Dale Caparaso said his team would welcome Brown back, but that appears to be a moot point.

"I ain't going back to Florida," Brown said.