Dennis House: The Berlin High School football recruiting scandal continues tonight. Eyewitness News has learned it cost you the taxpayer tens of thousands of dollars. Eyewitness News reporter Matthew Campbell is live at Veterans Memorial Stadium in New Britain where the rivalry between Berlin and New Britain is about to go down.
Matthew Campbell: The game’s gonna kick in about an hour or so and let me tell you the bad blood will be boiling over between New Britain and Berlin. Take a look behind me as the band just actually came into the stadium. There’s two separate entrances: one for New Britain and one for the Berlin fans as well.
And extra security has been added here all after this recruiting scandal that was uncovered by New Britain. Now if it wasn’t uncovered, taxpayers in Berlin would continue paying for players that didn’t live there.
As another chapter in the annual wishbone rivalry is about to be written, an asterisk will forever be placed to this year’s game after the CIAC Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference discovered Berlin was recruiting players from New Britain.
Stephanie Santa: “…I feel very sorry for these boys because they were given something and then it was taken away.”
Matthew Campbell: The four ineligible players from New Britain were taking away spots on the field and seats in the classroom that were always intended for kids from Berlin.
Carol Argazzi: “…weren’t able maybe to have a position on the team because somebody else unfairly took it from them.”
Matthew Campbell: The CIAC handed down punishments this week. The four players from New Britain are banned from ever playing again. Berlin head coach John Capodice suspended by the district. But the scandal goes far beyond the gridiron. It hits taxpayers in their wallets.
Dr. Karissa Niehoff: “Each district is a little bit different but it for a family to come in and take advantage of another school’s resources like that, you know, if you do it for multiple years, you’re talking a lot of money.”
Matthew Campbell: In Berlin the superintendent confirms that each high school student cost taxpayers $14,982 a year. In these four cases that’s money that was being spent on New Britain kids seemingly just to gain an edge here on the field.
Stephanie Santa: “I feel pretty robbed.”
Matthew Campbell: Taxpayers will foot another bill. The CIAC fined Berlin $4,000: a thousand for each violation. The team also had to vacate all wins. So the majority of players, all of whom are innocent, have no shot at the playoffs.
Stephanie Santa: “I feel really bad for the football players because they’ve worked really, you know, from Berlin, well all of them, but they’ve worked really hard for these wins and those were also taken away.”
Matthew Campbell: A live look here at Veterans Memorial as this game will kick in about an hour. And this game will be played for pride. Roaming the sidelines for Berlin will be assistant coach Rob Levesque. The long-term future for Coach Capodice: that’s still unknown.
That’s the latest live here with the mobile newsroom in New Britain.