An Akron, Ohio high school football player was “devastated” when the University of Pittsburgh offered him a scholarship, then declined to honor its commitment, his high school coach says.
Tom Addie, a 6-foot-3, 235-pound defensive lineman from Archbishop Hoban High School “had his heart set” on attending Pitt and even had begun wearing a Panthers’ tassel cap after giving a verbal commitment Jan. 21 to a Pitt assistant coach, said Hoban Coach Clemens Caraboolad.
Addie, at Pitt assistant coach Gerry Solomon’s urging, began telling other interested coaches that he had decided to attend Pitt, Caraboolad said.
Caraboolad told the Associated Press in a telephone interview Monday night that he received “an emergency” telephone call Feb. 1 from Solomon, saying “he had just gotten out of a staff meeting and that (Pitt Coach Foge) Fazio would not honor the scholarship agreement.”
“Tommy was just devastated,” Caraboolad said. “He’s going to go to Bowling Green and he’s happy, but I really think he wanted to play at Pitt. It’s the dream of many kids in urban areas who have the size and ability, to play at a school like Pitt.”
Fazio denied Monday that he had prior knowledge of any offer to Addie and that Solomon is not authorized to offer grants-in-aid. He said that if Hoban officials had contacted him about the situation “I would have rectified it.”
“If I had thought that something was vague or that there was a misunderstanding, I would have been happy to talk to Coach Fazio,” Caraboolad responded. “But I had no reason to get back to Coach Fazio. Coach Solomon had made it perfectly clear that he had just gotten out of a staff meeting, that Coach Fazio was there and they would renege on their contract.”
Angered by what he saw as an embarrassing mistreatment of a “good, solid kid from a good family,” the coach mailed a blistering letter to Pitt Chancellor Wesley Posvar and sent copies to the news media and to the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
In the letter, Caraboolad said, “I will do all that is in my power as a teacher and head coach in a major Ohio high school . . . to discourage Akron area students and players from participating in a college football program which is at least incompetent and callous and at most devious and underhanded.”
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, in its Tuesday editions, published a photo of Addie and Fazio taken during the player’s recruiting visit. The photo was signed, “To Tom, Good luck the next four years will be great, Foge Fazio.”
“I never planned to take this to the press . . . but I’m not afraid to let Coach Fazio know how we feel . . . to keep another young man from getting hurt,” Caraboolad said. “Coach Fazio may be a very good coach . . . but I hope he doesn’t let this happen again.”
Addie said Fazio called him Monday and renewed the scholarship offer, but that he now “wouldn’t advise anybody to go to Pittsburgh.
“He (Fazio) did me wrong,” Addie told the Post-Gazette.
The Pitt experience won’t keep him from trying to land major college scholarships for other Hoban players in the future, Caraboolad said.
“A lot of recruiters have come around and all have been very, very nice, all have seemed like honorable men,” Caraboolad said. “Other coaches have told me this is a rare occurrence, to have a contract reneged. But I talked to one coach tonight and he said there’s a lot of this going on this year.”