The fallout from the Berlin recruiting scandal continues as the two teams involved were set to face off on Friday night.
The investigation into the incident has cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.
New Britain was the team that filed the complaint against Berlin. If they stayed silent, the violation wouldn't have been uncovered and Berlin taxpayers would continue paying for players that didn't live in their town.
Another chapter in the annual wishbone rivalry was to be written on Friday night. An asterisk will forever be placed next to this year's game, after the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, discovered Berlin was recruiting players from New Britain.
“One, I feel very sorry for these boys because they were given something and it was taken away,” Stephanie Santana, of Berlin, said.
The four ineligible players from New Britain were taking away spots on the field and seats in the classrooms that were always intended for kids from Berlin.
“They weren't able to have a position on the team because somebody else unfairly took it from them,” Carol Argazzi, of Berlin, said.
The CIAC handed down punishments this week. The four players from New Britain are banned from ever playing again. Berlin Head Coach John Capodice was suspended, but the scandal goes far beyond the gridiron. It hits taxpayers in their wallets.
“Each district is a little different,” CIAC Executive Director Dr. Karissa Niehoff said. “But for a family to come in and take advantage of another schools resources like that, if you do it for multiple years, you're talking a lot of money.”
In Berlin, the superintendent confirms that each high school student costs taxpayers $14,982 a year. In these four cases, that's money that was being spent on New Britain children seemingly just to gain an edge on the field.
“I feel pretty robbed,” Santana said.
Taxpayers will foot another bill. The CIAC fined Berlin $4,000, a thousand for each violation. The team also had to vacate all wins. So, the majority of players, all of whom are innocent, have no shot at the playoffs.
“I feel really bad for the football players because they worked really hard for these wins and they were also taken away,” Santana said.
Friday’s game will be played for pride. Assistant Coach Rob Levesque will be roaming the sidelines. The long-term future for Capodice is not known.
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