In a report to the Florida High School Athletic Association, Lake Wales High School is denying having any involvement with recruiting students from another country. And they’re pointing the finger at their former basketball coach.
School officials say former Lake Wales head basketball coach, Randy Lee, lead the basketball team to two championships but they say he was willing to do anything to win, including recruiting students from other countries.
“He felt that it was a good thing to do and to get them a college education and so on, which the principal and the superintendent told them we couldn’t do,” said Robin Gibson, Lake Wales High School Attorney.
Gibson said red flags went up when they recently spotted some new students on the campus.
“We had four guys show up last month at school to enroll as students. Three from Camaroon and one from Serbia,” Gipson said.
After investigating, school leaders said in a report to the FHSAA that they learned the boys were living in deplorable conditions set up by Lee and sometimes left without food.
This investigation made school officials look at another Serbian student Lee brought to the school last basketball season.
“It had been represented to us and everybody else that he was an exchange student staying with a host family in Lakeland,” Gipson said.
The school’s investigation showed that the student was actually living with Coach Lee, a clear violation of FHSAA rules and the team may suffer because of it.
“I would suspect the first they’re gonna look at is whether the school should forfeit all of its basketball games. Certainly the ones that the Serbian player played in,” Gipson said.
Officials with The FHSAA say they’ll make a decision once the investigation is complete. But school officials say they highly doubt those four international students will ever play for their school.
School leaders say the students have been placed with a family and are being well taken care of. They’re enrolled in school here and officials have hired an immigration attorney for them.