Berlin football coach suspended following recruitment violations - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Berlin football coach suspended following recruitment violations ruling

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(WFSB file photo) (WFSB file photo)

A popular high school football team is being penalized for recruiting students from neighboring towns to play for them.

Berlin High School must forfeit this season’s victories that involved those players, according to the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference.

In light of the report, John Capodice has been suspended in his capacity as head football coach, according to superintendent David Erwin. He's also ineligible to participate in the final football game of this season.

"Perhaps there was section 8 housing provided for one or more students over the years. This was the first year we've received a formal request to initiate an investigation," said Karissa Niehoff, of the CIAC.

The Redcoats also won't be able to compete in the state playoffs.

The team will be coached by assistant coach Rob Levesque.

"It's too bad because they had been a strength in this town for many years," said John Giove of Berlin.

The CIAC said it was tipped off and learned that players were promised certain things.

"We heard from folks who gave us testimony that there could have been college scholarships, possible housing in the community [and] some guaranteed playing time," Niehoff said.

In addition to forfeiting some of the wins, the program will be fined $4,000. Officials said the penalties handed down will impact football teams around the state.

"The damage that's done goes far beyond the Berlin program,” Niehoff said. “Now you have teams in the tournament and even going back into the early season records that are impacted."

The longtime coach does have some supporters, like Scott Melville, who coached youth football with him.

"If there's a kid on the football field, they've gone through a process with the Board of Education. If there's a problem, that could be where it is, not with the coaching staff," Melville said.

Berlin’s superintendent issued a statement after the ruling.

"We are disappointed by the investigation,” said Superintendent David B. Erwin. “We are going to accept the sanctions. The ones that suffer are the students involved."

Officials told Eyewitness News that the Berlin-New Britain game scheduled for Friday will go on as scheduled.

The Berlin investigation isn't the only one. Bloomfield, the number two team in the state, is also being investigated for residency issues.

The CIAC said it is in the final stages, and all indications are there will not be any discipline, but football isn't the only sport that is seeking a crackdown.

The CIAC disqualified Bridgeport Central from the Class LL Boys Soccer Tournament after learning a premiere soccer league player was on their team.

"Our bylaws do not allow a student to play on two teams of the same sport," Niehoff said.

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