Montverde baseball team on probation

The Florida High School Athletic Association placed Montverde Academy's baseball team on restrictive probation through the 2008-09 season and fined the Lake County private school $10,000.

As a result of its probation, which is effective immediately, Montverde's baseball team will not be allowed to participate in the state playoffs in 2008 and '09. Additionally, Montverde is limited to 20 regular-season games and banned from playing any out-of-state or out-of-country teams.


In a letter sent to the FHSAA on Monday, Montverde headmaster Kasey Kesselring wrote Montverde did not plan to appeal.

"Montverde Academy respects the investigative process of the Florida High School Athletic Association," Kesselring said in a two-sentence statement. "The academy has worked cooperatively with the association to resolve any potential issues, has accepted responsibility for those issues in which the academy was in error and will work diligently in the future to avoid any violations of FHSAA standards."


The investigation began May 22, after the Sentinel reported Andrew Parks, Montverde's baseball coach and dean of the middle school, had traveled to Puerto Rico for an admissions event in the summer of 2005.

The Sentinel also reported Montverde was in contact with a third-party agent, Pedro Leon, to locate students. Montverde officials said Leon was one of several agents around the world that the school uses to help attract students. Leon runs a program that helps place Puerto Rican athletes in colleges.

In the spring of 2007, Montverde's baseball team went to the state final four for the first time in its six years of existence. Seventeen members of the 18-player team, which lost to Tallahassee North Florida Christian in the state final, were from Puerto Rico.

The FHSAA's investigation found that Parks and former dean of admissions Alan Whittemore attended a two-day exposure camp run by Leon in Salinas, Puerto Rico. The two administrators spoke with baseball players who were working out, and Parks actively participated in player evaluations. Parks and Whittemore were housed and fed for one night in the same dorm and cafeteria as the players. Five students who attended the camp later enrolled at Montverde.

The FHSAA also found that Parks, who did not return a phone call, participated in an open house conducted by Whittemore at a hotel outside San Juan, Puerto Rico. The letter stated that "families of baseball players mostly attended the open house."

In response to the findings, Montverde reprimanded Parks and said he will not travel to Puerto Rico for "any admission open houses in the future nor be present or participate in any camps held in Puerto Rico." The school also said it will "distance its relationship with the third party and encourage all prospective students to inquire directly through the admissions office."

At the time of the violation the policy stated that "recruiting programs of any kind cannot be conducted by coaches or any members of the school's athletic staff." Because coaches at many schools also serve other administrative roles, the policy was altered in an FHSAA board meeting in June.

As part of the investigation, the FHSAA spoke with Montverde officials, Leon, Whittemore, Parks, two Montverde players and parents. One player said Leon had told him Parks would be at the sports complex on the day of the camp.


"There were other coaches," said the player, whose name was redacted from the document. "But they were college coaches."