On Monday evening, a group of high school football players stuck in the middle of a recruiting scandal told the Berlin school board that they are victims.
The CIAC (Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference) leveled sanctions against the school and ineligible football players, but the young men said they did nothing wrong.
The scandal has impacted the football program from top to bottom. The team was forced to forfeit all of its wins last year, and the football coach was fired because of it.
On Monday evening, three of the four students at the center of the recruiting scandal told the school leaders that their lives have been tough.
“It was hard because I felt like I couldn't go out into public without being judged by any other person,” said Gage Davis.
Former football coach John Capodice was fired for allegedly recruiting four students from outside towns to play at Berlin.
The students said the claims are baseless.
“No, I was actually never recruited. Me and my mom moved here,” Davis said.
“As a mom it's very frustrating because we chose the school carefully because of his education," said Liza Davis.
In addition to forfeiting all of its wins, the team was barred from playing for a championship.
Gage Davis said all of his teammates are victims.
“I feel like I let them down because they worked all year and I just came back and I made them lose their season,” he said.
The sanctions don’t end there. The four ineligible students can’t play sports until midway through the next fall season.
Berlin Superintendent of Schools David Erwin said hearing from the students was difficult.
“You never like to see students in your school district suffer. When something like this happens there's a definite impact, particularly on students,” Erwin said.
It is unclear if anything can be done to change the decision. The district will hold a meeting in the next month and could ask the CIAC to reopen the case, but there is no guarantee that will happen.
At the Monday night meeting, the school board also announced that the Athletic Director Daniel Scavone has decided to resign at the end of the year. Erwin said the move has nothing to do with the recruiting scandal.
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