BERLIN -- Emotions ran high in New Britain Friday as two football teams at the center of a CIAC Investigation faced off.
The probe determined Berlin’s football program recruited out of town players, most from New Britain.
But Friday night the team finally won a victory, defeating New Britain on the gridiron.
But FOX 61’s Jeevan Vittal found there is a lot of push back to those investigative findings.
Liza Davis is the mother of Gage Davis, a sophomore member of the Berlin High School football team, until earlier this week when he was banned from playing the sport he loves.
“I was devastated. I couldn't picture this happening,” Gage said.
He is one of four team members banned by the CIAC, allegedly because he wasn’t a Berlin resident. But he said Berlin is his home and he was banned for what he believed was incorrect information.
“The CIAC has unfair punishment on each and every kid that something that wasn't true was said and the fact that you're going to ruin kids’ lives for false information is a little messed up,” Gage said.
Berlin’s head football coach John Capodice was singled out in a CIAC report alleging he improperly recruited and placed played players, going so far as to offer incentives such as residency and college scholarships to some kids, a direct violation of CIAC statutes.
The CIAC stripped Berlin of all its season wins, fined the team and imposed other sanctions. Also acting on that report, Berlin administrators suspended Capodice, but Liza and Gage Davis said something else doesn’t seem right.
Thursday, both mother and son recorded a conversation that included Berlin High’s principal, Francis Kennedy, and its athletic director Dan Scavone. It’s the first time son or mother were asked about what transpired between Gage and the coach.
“If… you know, young kids are vulnerable, you know? If the coach here ever enticed you or your family through any kind of recruitment, maybe you can take the avenue that, 'you know something? We were manipulated by an adult staff member here,” a man she said is the AD can be heard saying on the recording.
“If he was recruited, basically he wanted me to go to the CIAC and say that so that he could regain eligibility and I said that never happened,” Lisa said. “That that wasn't true.”
Here is a part of the recording:
AD: I'm not saying it did happen, I'm just asking if it did happen.
Liza: Oh no. That never happened.
AD: …and if it did happen, you know, maybe you could go to CIAC and say 'you know something? We were impressionable, maybe we used a little bad judgement, but maybe we were enticed to come here.' and I think there've been past issues…believe me the CIAC doesn't wanna hurt kids. And they have granted eligibility back to kids if they find out that adults did the wrong thing.
Liza: Yeah, well, that wasn't the case here.
AD: Well… okay then. Okay. I just wanted to throw it out there if that was the case because that could be a road…I'm just trying to help you.
“I believe that they were trying to entice me to say that coach Capodice recruited Gage,” said Liza.
FOX 61 reached out to the CIAC, Berlin Superintendent, and other officials and didn’t hear back from anyone for comment.