BRADENTON -- Ryan Fines' senior season won't be played in a Manatee uniform.
The defensive lineman has decided to transfer to IMG Academy, choosing the two-year-old program after spending a year and a half at Manatee.
Fines has committed to Miami, making him Manatee's first Division I player to transfer to IMG's program.
"Great academics, great facilities, great coaching," Fines said Friday. "It was an opportunity I couldn't pass up."
Never miss a local story.
Fines arrived at Manatee from Colorado midway through his sophomore year and spent all of last year on the varsity team. He appeared in nine games and totaled two sacks and 22 tackles for the Hurricanes, who won 11 games.
Since then, Manatee coach
Joe Kinnan, who won 290 games and five state titles in 30 years, decided to take a medical leave of absence for the 2014-15 school year. He was replaced by John Booth, a Manatee alum who was hired earlier this month.
Steve Gulash, who coached Manatee's defensive line for eight years, also isn't returning.
"If coach Kinnan and coach Gulash ... had stayed, we never would have entertained anything else," said Ryan's father, Ron. "Ryan was very happy at Manatee. He got some great coaching. But obviously things changed."
Gulash said Booth offered him a position on staff, but claims that Manatee principal Don Sauer didn't want Gulash working with the football team. Gulash said his calls and emails to Sauer haven't been answered. A witness in the case against former Manatee parent liaison and assistant coach Rod Frazier, who pleaded no contest in April to three misdemeanor counts of battery and three counts of interfering with school attendance, Gulash said he has done nothing wrong and believes he isn't coaching because of Sauer's "personal feelings toward me."
"I want to be there," said Gulash, who graduated from Manatee in 1993 and also works as a parent liaison. "All I want is an answer. But the thing is there isn't an answer someone won't hold against him because there is no legitimate answer. I've dedicated eight years to this town and people's families, and now I have someone saying that don't want me on that campus.
"It's just wrong. I'm sick of it."
Sauer was unavialable for comment Friday. But Jason Montgomery, Manatee's athletic director, said when Booth was hired, he was told he had complete control over his coaching staff and there was no directive from Manatee's administration over who he could or could not hire.
Booth agreed. He said Gulash gave Booth a congratulatory phone call after he was hired, but Booth said never formally offered Gulash the job of coaching Manatee's line, though the administration never said he couldn't.
"They never once said, 'No, you can't hire this guy,'" Booth said.
The reason Gulash isn't on staff, Booth said, was because Gulash wasn't on Manatee's staff during the spring. Gulash's replacement, Cody Flanagan, earned rave reviews from the staff, said Booth. And he chose to retain him.
"(Flanagan) went to the University of Maine...and then reached out and said he wanted to come back," Booth said. "If Flanagan said he did not want to come back, that would have made the decision to pursue coach Gulash more intruiging and entertaining for me...But we had a guy that did a great job in the spring. He received high priase from everyone on our staff, and the kids raved about him."
Ron Fines said Ryan going to IMG was not a personal affront against Booth.
"I still think Manatee is going to do really well," Ron said. "I never met coach Booth, but with everything I've heard, I think it was a great selection. This has nothing to do with coach Booth at all. It's a great opportunity for Ryan and it fits him best, looking at everything from academics to the program in general. It's good for what he wants and what his goals are."
What Fines won't be able to do at IMG is compete for a state title -- the school is an independent member of the Florida High School Athletic Association and does not compete in a district, making it ineligible for the playoffs.
"It's a bit of a drawback," said Fines, who had three tackles in Manatee's Class 8A-Region 2 playoff game at Fort Pierce Central last season. "But the positives far outweigh it."
Fines also said he plans on honoring his commitment to Miami.