Florida high school football coach suspended and fined for recruiting violations

Recruiting violations will sideline Booker coach Scottie Littles for six games and cost him a $5,000 fine
Booker (Florida) head coach Scottie Littles barks out plays during a 24-20 loss Cardinal Mooney High School in 2023 spring game in Sarasota.
Booker (Florida) head coach Scottie Littles barks out plays during a 24-20 loss Cardinal Mooney High School in 2023 spring game in Sarasota. / THOMAS BENDER/HERALD-TRIBUNE / USA TODAY

According to a report by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune's Doug Fernandes, the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) has suspended Booker head football coach Scottie Littles for six games and fined him $5,000 following an investigation stemming from violation of the association's recruiting rules.

In addition to the penalties levied by the FHSAA, Booker High School suspended Littles for two games, but per the report, that will run concurrent with the association's suspension. Sarasota County Schools also placed Littles on a one-year probationary program, which includes removal as head coach if Littles is found to have violated the recruiting policies ever again.

This is not the first time Littles has heard of complaints/allegations set forth against the program. According to the report, Southeast High School filed a complaint with the FHSAA against Booker for delays in sending over its EL6 player transfer forms. The FHSAA has no rule or penalty against tardy/late transfer player forms.

“We’re optimistic about our appeals process,” said Littles. “We appreciate the FHSAA and their due diligence. We want to uphold the FHSAA standards as best we can and continue to follow the rules and build a program people are proud of. No sanction levied by the FHSAA is going to harm our team or our players. At the end of the day, we respect the FHSAA and their rules and procedures.”

Per Fernandes' report, the recruiting violations stem from contact between Littles and a Sarasota Riverview player dating back to Feb. 27th at a track meet which took place at Booker High School.

According to the investigation report, Littles approached the player's mother telling her son "would look good in purple and gold" and she responded "no." The mother explained to Littles that she and other members of the family attended Sarasota Riverview High School.

The report also stated the mother vaguely admitted that she had been to Booker High School before and had contact with Littles in regards to having interest in the Tornadoes. Captured video footage, which was handed over to the FHSAA, showed the mother and her son arriving at Booker High School on March 11 to meet with a player for a workout.

About 20 minutes later, Littles arrived to the parking lot to speak with the Sarasota Riverview player and went on to discuss topics ranging from colleges, recruitment, offers, how much he was benching and a plethora of other things to make sure he was on the right track.

Per the report and video time stamp, the three then headed into the school to Littles' office where they resided from 12:18 p.m. to 1:41 p.m. The mother stayed with her son throughout the time at the school, as she was considered the player's representative.

Sarasota Riverview head coach Joshua Smithers caught wind of the player possibly transferring to Booker and was shown a Snapchat of the player at the Tornadoes' campus. Smithers spoke with the player, who didn't reveal much about what happened other than the "pros and cons of leaving," per the report.

Below is the transcript of a text conversation between the player and an unidentified person and then between the mother and Littles, who asked when would there be a good time to speak over the phone, per Fernandes' report.

Unidentified person: “Noooo, ya flagging. If he ain’t talking about handing (cash symbol) out to you.”

Player: “Nah.”

Unidentified person: “Bruh, don’t go there, you not thinking with your brain. You went to his office, or y’all talk over the phone?”

Player: “His office.”

Mother: “Who is this?”

Littles: “Littles.”

Mother: “Hey, if this is about football, my son will remain at (school redacted).”

Littles: “My apologies. I text the wrong number. I got a new phone, I was trying to reach (name redacted). I understand completely.”

During the time of Littles' suspension, he will be able to lead team workouts and practices, but will be barred from attending any Booker Tornadoes' football games. This includes the spring game, kickoff classic and the first four games of the 2024 season.

-- Andy Villamarzo | villamarzo@scorebooklive.com| @sblivefl

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Andy Villamarzo