The Director of Athletics and Student Activities for the Broward County School Board confirmed Monday that the investigation surrounding the Miramar High football program is now the sole jurisdiction of local law enforcement, which will conduct a probe into possible academic fraud and impermissible benefits to players.
Damian Huttenhoff told the Miami Herald that the matter was no longer in his hands, and has been turned over to Police Chief Anthony Williams, who heads the Special Investigations Unit for the district.
“My role has now diminished. It is in the hands of law enforcement and Chief Williams and I am sure that he will include the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the State Attorney’s Office in his investigation,” Huttenhoff said. “I am purely involved as an administrator. I spoke with the chief this morning, and they will institute a thorough investigation.”
The inferno surrounding the program started when former Miramar High head football coach Matthew Strout – after being forced to resign Oct. 21 – told School Board officials he paid players to transfer to the school and supplied cash to players for big plays. Players and coaches deny these allegations.
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There were also allegations that Strout gave tickets to sporting events to various teachers at the school in exchange for inflating players’ grades.
“I know that there are allegations surrounding possible academic fraud and transcripts,” Huttenhoff said. “That is one of the matters that the investigation will uncover.”
As a result of the allegations levied by Strout, Miramar High principal Maria Formoso sent a letter to the school board Oct. 30 advising that the school would forfeit its right to take part in the football playoffs. On Nov. 13 – one day before the Patriots were set to play Monarch High – the school board announced during a meeting at Miramar High that the program was ineligible.
Strout has hired Charles Eiss – a labor and employment attorney out of Plantation – to represent him in the investigation. Reached on Monday afternoon, Eiss declined to discuss his client’s role in the investigation and the allegations that were levied.
“I have absolutely no comment at this time,” he said.
Strout served as an assistant coach under Damon Codgell and was promoted to head coach when Cogdell left to become linebackers coach at West Virginia, his alma mater. Attempts to reach Cogdell were unsuccessful. A secretary at his West Virginia office said he was on the road recruiting.