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Nold is finally eligible

Posted Jan 22, 2013 by Scott Purks

Updated Jan 22, 2013 at 07:40 PM

After more than eight months and four denials for athletic eligibility by the Florida High School Athletic Association, Armwood senior Gabe Nold received some good news on Tuesday from Hillsborough County circuit court judge Sam D. Pendino.

For the moment, Nold is eligible to play sports.

Specifically, Nold is eligible to compete in Saturday’s county wrestling tournament, which should make him eligible to compete in the remainder of the state wrestling tournaments.

The eligibility was granted through a temporary injunction issued by Pendino after a one-hour hearing. The news ended a nerve-wrenching drama that started in February 2012 when then Armwood principal Michael Ippolito determined Nold filed false residency information after transferring from Wharton to Armwood.

The Nold family and attorney Peter Hobson followed with four failed appeals to the FHSAA through November, which meant Nold, a 6-foot-2, 280-pound lineman, did not get to play a game during his senior year of high school football. 

That’s why Hobson decided to file a lawsuit against the FHSAA, hoping to get an injunction to gain Nold’s eligibility.

Hobson contended that proper evidence was not issued to the FHSAA by Ippolito and Hillsborough county athletic director Lanness Robinson, who assisted in the Nold investigation.

“Gabe Nold was denied his due process,” Hobson said. “Proper procedures were not followed.”

A central part of the dispute hinged on a visit by Ippolito, Robinson and then Armwood athletic director Don Hill to an apartment that Gabe Nold and his father, John, said they lived in. Ippolito, Hill and Robinson believed the living arrangement did not look legitimate.

Hobson said the “investigation” was not thorough enough to sustain the level of “clear and convincing evidence” under the letter of the law. Hobson also added voluminous phone records from the Nolds that he believed proved that the Nolds did in fact live in the apartment.

“All I know is that it’s been a good week after a tough year for Gabe Nold,” Armwood football coach Sean Callahan, referring partly to the news on Sunday that Nold orally committed to a football scholarship to Gardner Webb. “It’s great to see something good happen for a very good young man.”

“We are ecstatic!” Gabe’s father, John said. “We are so thankful.”

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