The annual Coconut Bowl between Lely and Naples is Friday night.
Two senior Lely football players are not sure where they will be as they have been suspended from football for the season.
Matt Costello and Dylan Lynch did not play last Friday night against East Lee County.
Initially, the two had been suspended for one game after skipping and having smoking materials in their pockets, according to Ken Fairbanks, Lely High School principal.
The full-season suspension came after the two left the practice field on the same day after a coach made a sarcastic remark pertaining to them wanting to smoke.
Their hopes were dashed when Ken Fairbanks, Lely principal, stood by his decision after meeting with Costello’s parents on Oct. 8.
The incident occurred just before the Lehigh game on Oct. 2. The players missed that game and the East Lee County game.
“I don’t want to hurt Matty, or anyone else, but I feel Fairbanks’ decision was unfair and wrong,” Costello’s dad Bill said.
He has an appointment to speak with Collier County Schools Superintendent Dennis Thompson on Tuesday.
The incident began when the boys went out to Costello’s car in the school parking lot during a change in classes. They proceeded to go out to an area where some students were smoking.
According to Bill Costello, County Youth Relations Deputy Jered Browning spoke with the students. While he told Costello he had not seen the two teens smoking, he believed they were, Bill Costello said. Matt Costello did have a lighter in his pocket when confronted by Browning. However, Matt Costello said he wasn’t smoking. Lynch admitted he was, Bill Costello said.
For the smoking incident they were suspended for one football game, given two days afterschool discipline and viewed a photo on the dangers of smoking.
Bill Costello said that the remarks made by the coach were as the two were completing their discipline under the school policy code that the parents and players signed.
“The coach, Gerrod Ackley (offensive coordinator), sarcastically said to the boys something like wouldn’t a cigarette taste good right now,” Bill Costello said.
“Instead of talking back, the boys left the practice field as the code speaks to being respectful to others,” Bill Costello said. “By leaving the field however, they caused another violation and that’s what brought about the season suspension.”
Bill Costello feels that if the coach hadn’t said anything to the boys the suspension would never have happened.
Fairbanks does not consider the coach’s remarks being a major part of the suspension.
“Coaches have made many remarks across the country, but they do not cause students to walk away. The statement, though not right, was mild in comparison to what I have heard over the many years of my education,” Fairbanks said.
He stressed that the football team now has a code that is being enforced. He did not feel it had been in the past.
“All teams in Collier County have codes and many players have been dropped from teams,” he said. “I know two other schools where recently players were dropped. Discipline should be fair, but not always equal. We had a player that could have been dismissed earlier for an incident that hit the news, but wasn’t. Everyone feels bad, but student and player decisions do make for hard decisions. LHS has not been as disciplined a team as everyone would like.”
Bill Costello says that punishment has not been dealt equally, or fairly and is why he will talk with the superintendent.