The school, with the support of Manatee County, is appealing the ruling
The Florida High School Athletic Association ruled Wednesday that Braden River High gave "impermissible benefits" to two student athletes during the 2017-2018 school year and has been hit with sanctions as a result. Those sanctions include senior wide receiver/running back Knowledge McDaniel being ruled ineligible to compete in FHSAA contests for one year.
According to a release, the ruling stems from a letter the FHSAA received on July 25, alleging Braden River committed multiple violations of FHSAA policies governing recruiting, sportsmanship and offseason conditioning. On Aug. 1, Braden River athletic director Matt Nesser met with the FHSAA's Craig Damon at the school. During that meeting, and over the next few days, Braden River was able to disprove the majority of the allegations.
However, based on documents received from Braden River during the investigation, the FHSAA ruled that two players, McDaniel and former running back Deshaun Fenwick, now a freshman at the University of South Carolina, received impermissible benefits last season because they lived with someone "representative of the school's athletic interests," a violation of FHSAA Policy 18.104.22.168.
According to the release, McDaniel lived with Todd and Regina Thoma, whose son Brett Thoma is on the football team, beginning in January 2017, after McDaniel's grandmother's lease expired. Todd Thoma is the president of the Braden River booster club.
Fenwick lived with John and Amy Goda, whose son Kyle Goda plays baseball (and formerly football) at Braden River, beginning in April 2017 after his legal guardian abandoned him and left Fenwick's belongings on the Goda family's porch. According to the release, Fenwick was deemed homeless by the Manatee County School District in August 2017.
The sanctions force Braden River to forfeit all athletic contests McDaniel and Fenwick participated in last season, as well as pay a combined fine of $5,000 for both violations. The school is also placed on administrative probation until the 2020-2021 school year, and McDaniel is ineligible to compete in any FHSAA contests for 365 days.
McDaniel is a three-star prospect according to 247Sports, and holds offers from numerous NCAA Power 5 conference programs, including the universities of Georgia, Tennessee, Missouri, Nebraska and Ohio State.
The school, with the support of Manatee County, will appeal the sanctions and is "confident the decision will be overturned at sectional appeals once the full details emerge," according to Manatee County district supervisor of athletics Jason Montgomery.
The letter in question also alleged the school used a collegiate Hudl account to to view opponents' game film. This allegation was found to be true, but Manatee County allowed the school to discipline itself. That discipline has not publicly been announced.