By FRANCIS FEDOR
The Sumner athletic program is in the midst of a changing of the guard with Candice Culpepper replacing Melvin Williams as the athletic director.
We first learned of the changes through a source at the school that alerted me that Jamie Turner, the boys basketball head coach, had resigned. I had noticed that Ryan Bethony was handling the coaching duties but was not aware of any change in the leadership. Coach Turner participated and coached in his team’s senior night and handed the players their framed memory of the event, getting an emotional win over Tampa Bay Tech. Turner, as with many of the coaches at Sumner, has built a very successful program in the formative years of the Stingray history.
It then came to my attention via that same source that the football team had vacated its wins for the 2022 season, validated by reviewing the MaxPreps page for the Sumner football team. The outcomes are now characterized as, for example, “On 11/4, the Sumner varsity football team lost by forfeit in their home non-conference game against Middleton (Tampa, FL)” Another popular website for HS football, HUDL, has not updated the results for those games yet.
Prime Time Preps, a regional HS internet news outlet, characterizes the forfeits as the result of the Stingrays using an ineligible player and confirms the information through the benefiting coaches as receiving notification through the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) of the change of result. The ineligible player has been identified to me through a source, but I am still validating that the information provided is accurate.
I have no doubt that the administration, coaches and players will weather the storm and emerge just as successful as they have in the past.
The profile of HS sports has been elevated by the levels above them. Fans that follow college sports are becoming very familiar with the term NIL and competitiveness and success of HS programs that feed into that next level. And while NIL has not been determined to be a factor in this case, it is becoming more and more relevant in HS sports conversations. From the website NCSA, “On June 30, 2021, the Division 1 Board of Directors approved an interim name, image and likeness (NIL) policy. This new policy allows all NCAA D1, D2 and D3 student-athletes to be compensated for their NIL as of July 1, 2021, regardless of whether their state has an NIL law in place or not.” NIL is an evolving entity and has seen a push into the HS ranks, increasing the competitiveness for players and their desire to be involved in an athletic program that best positions them for a college offer. Arch Manning and his NIL value, the second highest NIL valuation according to On3.com, is a great example of the elevation of HS sports into the national spotlight.
This is still a developing story, and we have reached out to various contacts for additional information. Updated information will be offered here as it is confirmed and validated.