Barons AD bows out; school plans to appeal postseason ban

Ann Marie Mancuso is stepping down as athletic director at St. Petersburg Catholic.

Published May 19, 2007

ST. PETERSBURG - Ann Marie Mancuso is stepping down as athletic director at St. Petersburg Catholic.

Mancuso will switch to another undetermined position within the school's administration, a decision she said was "mutual" between her and SPC principal, Father John Serio. Serio has interviewed several candidates to replace Mancuso for next school year.

"It was time for a change, " said Mancuso, in her fifth year as AD after seven years as athletic secretary. "It was something I've been thinking about for a long time, even before everything went down."

Mancuso was referring to May, when the Florida High School Athletic Association levied SPC's football program with a $13, 000 fine and three-year postseason ban for recruiting violations and illegal practices; Mancuso's husband, Dan, was the Barons football coach at the time, but resigned in September just a week before the school appealed the FHSAA's findings.

In its October hearing, SPC acknowledged the illegal practices but sent representatives to Gainesville to fight the recruiting charges. The school denied the FHSAA's findings and argued the penalty was excessive. But the 17-member board of directors voted unanimously to uphold the decision the FHSAA made in May.

The board said SPC could return and appeal once each year, which the school planned to do at the board's May 31 meeting.

But Serio failed to fax a written request for a hearing by Friday's 5 p.m. deadline. He said he faxed it "after 5" to FHSAA commissioner John Stewart, who could not be reached for comment.

"I played it rather close to the deadline, " Serio said. "He should have it."

FHSAA spokesperson Robert Hernberger said he was "fairly confident" that though SPC was late, Stewart would grant it a hearing for the next meeting.

In that hearing, SPC hopes the changes made within the department since the last board meeting will help in convincing the FHSAA to take at least a year off the postseason ban. The Barons have a new football coach in Tod Creneti, who was hired three months ago.

And soon, Serio said, the school will have a new AD.

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@sptimes.com or 727 893-8129.