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No spring football, no spring supplement for coaches in Hillsborough and Pasco

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Hillsborough's Earl Garcia

County administrators in Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas were already formulating plans on what to do with the supplements public school coaches receive if the Florida High School Athletic Association decided to cancel spring sports. 

That announcement came Monday when the FHSAA called off the remainder of the season. The move was made two days after Gov. Ron DeSantis said schools should be closed for the rest of the semester due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Sports such as baseball, softball and track and field were able to get in a handful of games or meets before their seasons were postponed, then eventually cancelled. 

Those coaches are all receiving supplements, though some are prorated.

Spring football never happened. The month-long schedule was supposed to start April 27. 

And that means no spring supplement for public school coaches in Hillsborough and Pasco. 

The move was not a surprise in Hillsborough, where nearly every coach had already received an email from their school athletic director informing them the supplement would not be paid within the past month. 

Football coaches in Hillsborough receive an annual supplement of roughly $3,700 before taxes. That total is split into two installments with about 70 percent paid in December after the fall season and the remaining 30 percent paid in the spring.  

It was a move that angered some coaches. 

“We’re not talking about a lot of money, but it’s disrespectful, a slap in the face to all of us who are working throughout the year, spring football or not,” Hillsborough coach Earl Garcia said.

Pinellas County athletic director Al Bennett said he recommended that coaches in all spring sports, including football, receive their supplement. Hernando County also is paying spring supplements to its football coaches.

“The money was already earmarked,” Bennett said. “Football coaches started working in January and they go through the summer. It’s pretty much non-stop.”

The debate whether to pay supplements comes with budgets tightening around the area. For example, the athletic trainers for PT Solutions, which covers every Pasco public school, were furloughed.

“I’m still an advocate for the coaches,” Pasco County athletic director Matt Wicks said. “I want them to get paid, but I’m only one voice.” 

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Baseball

No more fans at Pasco County sporting events after COVID spike

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Stock football stadium

Pasco County has decided to limit all athletic activities to students and coaches due to the recent spike in coronavirus cases. 

That means no fans or media members in attendance. 

The new rule starts on Monday and will last until the positivity rate, which has climbed to nine percent, drops to below five percent for a rolling seven-day period. 

In the past two weeks, two county football teams — Wiregrass Ranch and Fivay — had to forfeit playoff games because of a player testing positive for coronavirus and multiple team members and coaches having to quarantine due to contact tracing. 

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Coronavirus

COVID case ends Osceola’s volleyball season

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Osceola, which made the Class 5A region finals in volleyball last season, had to forfeit Monday’s district quarterfinal match because its entire junior varsity and varsity teams are quarantining after a player tested positive for the coronavirus on Sept. 25, Pinellas County athletic director Al Bennett said.  

By forfeiting, the Warriors ended their season. They were ranked fifth in the state in Class 5A and were expected to go on another deep playoff run.

“We have to follow what the health officials tell us,” Bennett said. “It’s tough because Osceola is one of our best volleyball teams in the county. I talked to the Florida High School Athletic Association and they said there were plenty of other teams around the state in the same situation.”

Under CDC and Pinellas County health department guidelines, any student athlete who tests positive must be quarantined, as well as anyone who comes within six feet for more than a 15-minute duration without any face covering. Osceola’s quarantine ends on Oct. 19, a week after the district tournament.. 

All the players have currently tested negative, including the one who was originally positive. But the quarantine did not end. The Warriors also had to postpone their appearance in the Pinellas County Athletic Conference championship game. That title game against St. Petersburg will be made up once the Green Devils’ season ends. 

“It’s heartbreaking for the seniors to have their season end this way, but we’re really excited for the chance to play the PCAC Final at home for senior night as our last match of the season, against our toughest competition, St Petersburg,” Osceola coach Ashley Martin said.”It will feel like a state championship since a trophy is involved.”    

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Coronavirus

PHU cancels season opener after a football player tests positive for coronavirus

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Palm Harbor University’s season opener against rival East Lake this Friday has been cancelled after a Hurricanes player tested positive for coronavirus, Pinellas County athletic director Al Bennett confirmed in a text message.

It was unclear how many PHU players are currently under quarantine. According to CDC and county health department guidelines, a player who tests positive must quarantine, as well as anyone who comes within six feet for more than a 15 minute duration with a face covering.

The Hurricanes next game is scheduled for Sept. 17 at Wharton. Bennett said the school is looking into moving that game to Saturday or Monday to avoid another cancellation.

The Eagles will now host Sarasota Riverview in Friday’s opener.

This is the fourth area football program that had to cancel its season opener after having a player test positive for the virus.

Hillsborough and Jefferson, which were supposed to play on Friday, both have players under quarantine. Their opponents, Chamberlain and Gaither, are now kicking off the regular season against each other.

Zephyrhills is in a similar situation and had to cancel its first two games.

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