BRADENTON — The Florida High School Athletic Association will not be handing out any penalties regarding the scrum that broke out between Palmetto and East Lake following last month's Class 7A-Region 3 football quarterfinal.
Corey Sobers, a spokesman for the FHSAA, said the association saw no evidence a Palmetto coach struck an East Lake player, an allegation made by an East Lake parent, after players from both sides got into a quick skirmish seconds after East Lake scored a 14-13 win over the Tigers on Nov. 15 in Tarpon Springs.
Palmetto disciplined two of its players for their actions in the scuffle, Sobers added.
"The FHSAA felt that Palmetto's response to the situation was appropriate, so there are no further sanctions," Sobers said in an e-mail. "Palmetto disciplined the students themselves."
Palmetto athletic director Kenny Ansbro said the decision to punish the two players, whom Ansbro declined to name, was independent of the FHSAA's investigation into the incident.
"We suspended our kids that Monday. ... I saw two kids who wouldn't stop and kept going, kept going," said Ansbro, who watched the game from the Tigers' sideline that night with Palmetto High Principal Willie Clark. "And if you do that, you're going to pay the consequences from us.
Ansbro said the players are serving athletic suspensions. And because that night's loss ended Palmetto's football season, the punishments will be carried out when the players compete in their next sport.
"They'll be sitting for a long time," he said.
The scuffle broke out near midfield after Palmetto tried to lateral its way to a touchdown from its own 20-yard-line. It lasted less than a minute before officials and coaches from both sides intervened. The teams did not shake hands -- a mutual decision, according to Ansbro -- though Palmetto stayed in the stadium for about an hour as the players ate their postgame meal.
The following day, an East Lake parent wrote to a number of websites, including the Herald's site and the Palmetto High Sports' Facebook page, claiming that a Palmetto coach struck an East Lake player during the altercation.
"Like I said, in talking with Mr. Harrison (Justin Harrison, the FHSAA's assistant executive director whose responsibilities include overseeing the conduct of players and coaches), first of all, the referee didn't write anything up," Ansbro said. "They saw the skirmish, and they didn't see anyone slinging their helmets or drop-kicking anyone. ... Kids, sometimes their emotions get to them, and it happens."
Ansbro said he felt confident that no coaches would be disciplined because not only was he there, but he watched the game film, too.
"Something like that (a coach hitting a player), somebody would see that," he said. "All of it's on film. Even if you say, 'I don't remember exactly what happened,' it's all there in black and white. It's a good thing about having those games taped.
"We're glad that it all came out all right, and we supplied (the FHSAA) with everything they needed. And we were confident they wouldn't find anything. ... The FHSAA is easy to work with."