Florida Principal Bars Vols Recruiters
Last week, a Florida high school principal, Ariel Alejo (like the Little Mermaid, how cute), refused to allow a Tennessee assistant coach to enter campus and extend a scholarship offer to one of his students. Why? Because he's still upset over comments Lane Kiffin made last February after signing another Pahokee student, Nu'Keese Richardson.
Why might Principal Alejo (right) be upset? I don't know, it could have something to do with the fact that his public profile page for Pahokee High School features a Florida Gator at the bottom [Now replaced with the Pahokee High seal. Alejo's e-mail address has also been removed.] Alongside this quote, "I would also like for every student to graduate and go to college." What needs to be added to the end of the quote is this, "Unless they go to Tennessee." No matter which school you support, I think we can all agree, this is ridiculous and colossal misplacement of school time, energy and focus.
The average SAT at Pahokee is 780, the average ACT is 16.3, the school is below average in every major statistical computation used for testing students. Yet the principal of this school is trying to keep students from receiving scholarship offers from one particular college. Something, to be honest, he doesn't have the actual authority to do. A public high school principal can't ban one particular college -- his rival no less -- from recruiting athletes. Put simply, he doesn't have the authority to single them out. All he does is make overworked educators look out of touch, petty, and unintelligent.
Where did all this begin?
The day after Richardson signed with the Vols, Kiffin appeared at a booster rally and said that Richardson's papers were faxed from outside the high school. "Someone at the school was going to screw it up. The fax machine wouldn't work, or they would have changed the signatures - all the things that go on in Pahokee."
The implication was clear, that Pahokee administrators steer their football players, and they produce a ton of talent, to Florida. Only Richardson went to Tennessee. In the wake of those comments Kiffin apologized to Blaze Thompson, the head coach of the state champion football team.
He also apologized to the Pahokee community-at-large several months ago, "If I offended anybody in Pahokee or [anyone who] has to do with Pahokee or in the schools, I apologize; and I want to make sure it's understood that is not what was meant by it [the comments] at all, It was just an energetic breakfast with some of our donors."
But those apologies aren't enough for Principal Alejo. What does he want? According to the Palm Beach Post:
"Coach Kiffin publicly apologized to Blaze Thompson ... but I'm still waiting, and the community is as well," Alejo said. "It's what I think he owes the community of Pahokee and what he owes this school. His comments were made public, so now he needs to go publicly and retract those comments."
Alejo suggested Kiffin fly down and attend tonight's city commission session or the school's Student Advisory Council meeting May 19.
"If I were him, I would consider [going]," Alejo said. "If it was me, that's what I would do."
Yep, he wants Kiffin to attend a city council meeting. Until then the university is banned from campus.
Seriously, are you kidding me?
Principal Alejo is trying to hold a public university hostage until they meet his particular apology demands? I know we've entered a politically correct era that demands everyone be treated with kid gloves, but, come on, this is ludicrous and embarrassing to everyone associated with public education.
Here's what should happen instead, Principal Alejo should be fired. Right now. Immediately. Whoever is in charge of Florida's high schools should issue a statement. It should read as follows: "We're happy whenever any of our students receive scholarship offers to attend college. Particularly when those offers arrive for students from comparatively disadvantaged background who have to work twice as hard to achieve their college dreams. Principal Alejo showed not just bad judgment, but his actions were the anti-thesis of the principles we support in Florida schools. He's been reassigned to janitorial duties in Miami."
That's it. Ballgame.
And the same result should hold true for any public school principal who feels compelled to step outside of the academic universe and attempt to dictate where and how kids can go to college to play sports. Do we really want to live in a country where the individuals in charge of shepherding teenagers to adulthood aren't adult enough to accept kids going to their rival colleges? Of course we don't.
By taking his idiotic stand, all that Principal Alejo has done is prove that he's not decent enough to sport the Gator logo on his principal web page. The University of Florida ought to contact him and ask him to take down the logo. He's giving them a bad name, and doing what once seemed impossible: Making Lane Kiffin look level-headed.