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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
Bruce Buck's decision comes soon after the FHSAA begins looking into an ineligible player at spring practice.
By BOB PUTNAM
Published June 2, 2006
[Times photo (2005) -- Scott Keeler]
Bruce Buck, the coach at Pinellas Park for nine seasons, went 8-3 and made the playoffs (losing in the first round) in his only season as Tarpon Springs' coach.
Tarpon Springs football coach Bruce Buck resigned in the wake of a Florida High School Athletic Association investigation involving a player not enrolled there who practiced and played in the spring.
Wayne McKnight, the school's assistant principal for athletics, said Buck told players and parents of the decision Wednesday.
"Unfortunately, (the FHSAA investigation) was a factor that weighed heavily on Bruce's decision," McKnight said. "It clearly was the coach's decision to dedicate more time to his family. It was not a decision made by the school whatsoever."
The player in question is Worthy Jackson, Dunedin's starting quarterback last spring who participated in drills and scored on a 66-yard run in the Spongers' 32-27 loss to Palm Harbor U. two weeks ago.
Jackson will attend Tarpon Springs in the fall through school choice but was enrolled at Dunedin while practicing for the Spongers.
Sonny Hester, the FHSAA associate commissioner for compliance, said last week his organization is investigating the matter and it was too early to tell what punishment the school might face.
Buck admitted to the violation, saying last week he heard from someone else Jackson could play. He hoped the FHSAA would be lenient.
Thursday, Buck issued a statement via e-mail.
"Everything I have ever done has been with the priority of what is best for Tarpon Springs first and what is best for each player second," Buck said. "I made a mistake, a mistake of ignorance of a rule; not a recruiting violation, not insubordination, just a misunderstanding about a rule.
"And I will with every avenue available to me do everything I can to make sure the tremendous men of Tarpon football don't get disciplined for my mistake."
McKnight said George Kotis, a longtime assistant, will take over as coach. Kotis was the runnerup for the head coaching position when Don Davis stepped down two years ago.
Kotis is vacationing in Tennessee and was unavailable for comment.
Buck previously coached at Pinellas Park for nine seasons and guided it to a district championship and the school's first playoff appearance in 1983 and a bowl game in 1984.
He left the job in 1990 and took a year off before joining Tarpon Springs as an assistant. Last season, he decided he was ready to be a coach again, replacing Davis. The Spongers went 8-3 and made the playoffs for the first time since 2001.