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Top-ranked Seminole used ineligible player

The FHSAA is likely to rule that transfer Bryan Bass, the No. 6-rated prospect in the nation, was ineligible for the Warhawks' first 10 games.

By PETE YOUNG

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 14, 2001


SEMINOLE -- The Seminole Express has struck an unexpected speed bump.

The unbeaten and unchallenged Warhawks, ranked No. 1 nationally by Baseball America and No. 1 in the Class 5A state poll, are expected to lose star shortstop Bryan Bass for the remainder of the season and have to forfeit 10 games. Bass likely will be ruled ineligible this week by the Florida High School Activities Association over a residency issue, FHSAA associate commissioner Dan Boyd said Tuesday.

Bass, a senior who is rated the No. 6 overall high school prospect and No. 1 shortstop in the nation by Baseball America, transferred to Seminole from Fort Lauderdale Westminster Academy in January.

If a student transfers during the school year, there cannot be a "break in the residence chain," or the student is ineligible to play sports, Boyd said.

Bass, who is from Fayette, Ala., and attended Fayette County High his junior year, lived with a host family near Westminster this fall, Boyd said. Bass and his mother moved to the Seminole school zone before the Jan. 19 deadline to be eligible to play spring sports. However, Boyd learned last week that Bass had not been living with his mother at Westminster, meaning when he moved to Seminole there was a break in the residence chain.

"After the school year starts, if someone transfers they have to move with the individuals they have been living with (or they are ineligible)," Boyd said. "It's a shame, because I talked with (Bass') dad several times before the transfer. He wanted to make sure everything was okay ... (However), I was under the (initial) impression (Bass) was living with his mom (near Westminster)."

Boyd said he informed Seminole of the situation Monday.

"(The FHSAA) had some concerns about (Bass) and we're addressing it," Seminole athletic director Allyn Ramker said. "(Seminole principal Richard) Duncan will be corresponding with them (today)."

Unless Duncan's correspondence contains new or contrary information regarding Bass' residencies at Westminster and/or Seminole, Boyd said Bass will be declared immediately ineligible, and Seminole will forfeit all games in which he played. (Bass played in each of the first 10 games.)

"I was under the impression from our administration and (county athletic director Bob) Hosack that he was good to go, that's why he was playing," Seminole coach Scott Miller said. "It's (disappointing)."

The Warhawks are eligible for the district and state playoffs, and the eligibility of no other players will be affected. However, having already played three of its seven Pinellas County Athletic Conference games, Seminole most likely won't be able to defend its PCAC title since those three wins will become losses.

Bass can appeal the anticipated ruling at the FHSAA's April 5 meeting in Bartow, though Tuesday night that appeared unlikely. Bass was not at Seminole's game against St. Petersburg, and several Seminole parents said he had headed back to Alabama. Miller said he did not know Bass' intentions and he would be replaced in the lineup by Phil Stillwell.

Bass, a 6-foot-1, 185-pound switch-hitter who also is a football standout and has signed to play wide receiver for Alabama, was 12-for-29 (.414 average) with a double, triple and home run this season.

- Staff writer Keith Niebuhr contributed to this story.

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