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Catholic High has 4 titles revoked amid LHSAA probe

Published: Jun. 21, 2021 at 11:16 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 21, 2021 at 6:37 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Catholic High School in Baton Rouge has been sanctioned following a recruiting investigation by the Louisiana High School Athletic Association (LHSAA).

As a result, the school announced its 2017 and 2020 State Titles and its 2018 and 2019 State Runner-up titles are being revoked.

“In March of 2021, the LHSAA informed Catholic High School that it was under investigation regarding alleged violations within the school’s football program that potentially occurred in 2017,” Catholic High School Athletic Director Ben DiPalma said. “Catholic High School administrators worked diligently with the LHSAA to aid them in their investigation in whatever way possible,” DiPalma said. “The investigation concluded in May of 2021. It was determined that Catholic High School’s 2017 and 2020 State Titles, and the 2018 and 2019 State Runner-up titles would be revoked.”

DiPalma continued, “CHS respects the confidentiality policy between the LHSAA and member schools, and will not comment further. As this matter is now closed, we look forward to moving on to the 2021 Football Season and post season under new head coach, David Simoneaux.”

DiPalma says the school has also agreed to pay two fines levied by the LHSAA. He declined to say the amount of those fines.

The statement from Catholic High School came just hours after WAFB-TV first reported that the school was being sanctioned. At the time, the school said it would not comment on the matter. LHSAA President Eddie Bonine told WAFB-TV that Catholic High administrators have accepted the LHSAA sanctions and do not plan to appeal.

Bonine did add, however, that the sanctions against CHS do not include any post-season bans and no student athletes are being ordered to move or transfer back to “their zoned school of attendance.”

Sources say the lengthy LHSAA probe revealed multiple rules violations committed by the Catholic High football program and its athletic department.

In particular, the LHSAA focused on alleged improper recruiting of players by the school.

Documents provided by a source to WAFB-TV show instances of Catholic High staff being instructed to scout specific middle school teams and youth organizations for potential recruits.

LHSAA rules strictly prohibit recruitment or attempted recruiting of students from other schools for athletic purposes. “Athletic recruiting is defined as the use of undue influence and/or special inducement by anyone connected directly or indirectly with an LHSAA school in an attempt to encourage, induce, pressure, urge or entice a prospective student of any age to transfer to or retain a student at a school for the purpose of participating in interscholastic athletics,” the LHSAA rules state. Former Catholic High Head Football Coach Gabe Fertitta, who left the school after the 2020 championship for a college job in Louisville, did not reply to a request for comment from WAFB-TV.

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