Rock Bridge Coach A.J. Ofodile Suspended
COLUMBIA - Rock Bridge High School football coach A.J. Ofodile has been suspended for violating an enrollment procedure.
Antwon Turnage transfered from Hickman High School to Rock Bridge last summer, but participated in the Bruins summer workouts prior to enrollment. Ofodile said he thought since Turnage was enrolled in summer school, he was allowed to participate in summer workouts. Ofodile said the issue was only for summer workouts and Turnage's residence was accurately verified in time for the start of competition. Ofodile said he self-reported the information to MSHSAA and it was a "misinterpretation" of the rules.
"I respect MSHSAA's enforcement of their by-laws," Ofodile said. "I think it's a difficult task. I have a great deal of respect for what they do, which means I will always abide by any decisions they make. However, in this case, I'm not in total agreement of the outcome. I get where MSHSAA comes from. When you have by-laws, you have to enforce those by-laws. The intention behind the mistake doesn't matter. It's whether it's an infraction or not. We made a mistake. We allowed him to participate before everything was in line," Ofodile said.
Ofodile said he plans to serve his suspension and move on.
"I have no interest in being involved in that. It's not fun. We had a great season last year. It was an extremely stressful addition to a good season. It takes away from the enjoyment of it. I have no interest in anything political. I have no interest in anything other than coaching kids and having a good football program," Ofodile said.
Ofodile said he has heard rumors the suspension was for hitting somebody and embezzling money.
"That's ridiculous. I would never do that. That's a fireable offense. You'd get a whole lot more than a summer for that. When people hear suspension, they think it's something sinister. They think it's a recruiting thing. They think it's a criminal thing. It's none of those things. I take all this stuff in stride. You get adversity, you deal with it," Ofodile said.
Ofodile said the team is aware of the suspension and it will be a group effort for the rest of his staff to fill-in during his absence. He said he doesn't think the suspension will impact his team's preparations for next season, but can't know for sure since he's never been in this situation before.
"This is unprecedented. This is the first time. There's nobody to call or ask how they managed it. We'll see. I don't anticipate it. We got a good, young staff. Things will roll on as scheduled as we've always done them. Only difference is I won't be out making plays or reading plays off," Ofodile said.
Ofodile said MSHSAA informed him of the suspension about a month ago. He can return to team activity on August 4, which is the start of the 2014 football season. Ofodile said his understanding is he's allowed to remain in contact with his players during this suspension. He also said it does not impact his standing as a P.E. teacher at Rock Bridge. He will still teach summer school.
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