A Florida high school is under investigation and a coach has been forced to resign in a scandal over allegedly improper recruitment of foreign students who were housed in "deplorable" conditions to play basketball, according to an internal report by the school.
Randy Lee resigned last week as boys basketball coach at Lake Wales High School, a public charter school in Polk County, in a dispute with administrators over the enrollment of three basketball players from Cameroon and one from Serbia, the school said in an eight-page report this week to the Florida High School Athletic Association.
The boys — who average 6 feet, 7 inches tall — arrived at Lake Wales in early February over the objections of the school's principal and the district superintendent, who gave Lee the choice of resigning or being fired, according to the report.
According to the report — which NBC News isn't publishing because it names the students, who are minors — the boys arrived last month with apparently proper paperwork indicating they were transferring from Faith Baptist Christian Academy North in Ludowici, Georgia.
Principal Donna Dunson wrote that Lee told her that the school "had closed and the boys did not have any place to go." She said the boys were living in "deplorable" conditions — which weren't described — with the 21-year-old girlfriend of an assistant basketball coach. They have since been placed with foster families and are being represented by an immigration attorney, the report says.
State records and the academy's website show that Faith Baptist Christian Academy North is in the Gainesville area of north Georgia, not Ludowici. Ludowici, almost 300 miles away in south Georgia, is home to a different school, Faith Baptist Christian Academy.
Georgia high school sports records show that both institutions were still in existence and played boys basketball tournament games on Feb. 27 — at least two weeks after the young men arrived at Lake Wales. Calls to phone numbers for both academies weren't answered late Wednesday.