sports journalist

RYAN S. CLARK

By Ryan S. Clark and Amy Shipley

Staff writers

 

MIRAMAR  --  The Ohio State University transcript Matt Strout added to his personnel file after being named Miramar High School’s football coach last year is not an authentic document, the university’s registrar told the Sun Sentinel on Monday.

 

Strout, whose wide-ranging allegations prompted Broward County Public Schools to investigate Miramar High and its football program, supplied the district with a phony transcript showing a Matthew Lee Rodgers-Strout attended classes at Ohio State from spring1997 through winter1999 and graduated on Dec. 12, 1999, with a bachelor’s degree in business management.

 

Brad Myers, Ohio State’s registrar and executive director of enrollment services, on Monday said Strout’s “transcript” contains “some obvious discrepancies, and there are many that can easily be discerned without any research.”

 

The phony document is the latest revelation related to Strout’s personnel records on file with Miramar High and the school district. The Sun Sentinel reported Friday, following an extensive background check, that Strout falsified significant portions of the resume he used to apply for Miramar’s head coach job.

 

Strout claimed in his resume to have earned two bachelor’s degrees, from Ohio State and University of Kentucky, and a master’s degree from Rutgers. Officials from each registrar’s office confirmed Strout did not attend or graduate from the universities.

 

“What probably happened is that everyone just assumed the resume was correct,” Broward Schools Athletics and Activities Director Damian Huttenhoff said Monday. “The ultimate responsibility is the principal at the school, in this case Brian Faso, and under him the athletic director, Damon Cogdell, who was also the head football coach. The hiring of a head coach is normally done in concert between the AD and the principal.”

 

Strout’s attorney, Charles Eiss, on Monday declined to comment on the matter.

 

While the transcript Strout submitted to the district contains many disparaties compared to authentic Ohio State documents, a sampling of the more obvious differences includes:

 

- Strout’s transcript shows the seal of the state of Ohio rather than the Ohio State University seal.

 

- Ohio State does not award a “bachelor of arts in business management.”

 

- The address for the Ohio State registrar’s office is incorrect.

 

- On the transcript key, Ohio State is described as a “private institution.” Ohio State is a public institution.

 

“If this had been an OSU student, we would take some action against him, particularly regarding future transcripts,” Myers told the Sun Sentinel. “Since this is someone with no OSU affiliation, our experience with our Office of Legal Affairs is that it’s generally not worth the cost and effort to go after such a person.”

 

On the resume he submitted to Miramar High, Strout also claimed he played linebacker for the Buckeyes while at Ohio State, specifically as a “member of the 1997 Big Ten championship and Rose Bowl championship team.” No records could be found to substantiate his claim, according to the university’s athletic department.

 

His resume also showed nine years of experience coaching football at the high school level. But officials at Graves County High School and Lone Oak High in Kentucky and Washington High in Massillon, Ohio

 

— schools where Strout said he coached football — all denied his claims.

 

Strout, 38, submitted the phony Ohio State documents to the district on Feb. 19, when applying to become a substitute teacher at Mira-mar High.

 

Strout, who was recommended by former Miramar coach and Athletic Director Damon Cogdell and hired by then Principal Brian Faso on Jan. 31, was forced to resign Oct. 20, just days after the previously top-ranked Patriots suffered their third loss of the season.

 

Broward Schools spokeswoman Cathleen Brennan said last week that to serve as a coach in the district, an applicant needs to have a high school diploma and coaching certification, and must undergo a background check. In order for someone to get on the substitute teacher list, Broward Schools policy requires the submission of original transcripts, as opposed to photo copies. It’s unclear to what extent, or if at all, the district vetted Strout’s transcripts. Brennan declined to comment on Monday.

 

Miramar High officials, who admitted wrongdoing related to the football program two weeks ago to the district and the Florida High School Athletic Association, have not responded to multiple calls and messages requesting comment. Principal Maria Formoso ended the team’s season early, vacating the Patriots’ berth in this season’s playoffs.

 

District officials said Strout went through a criminal-history check. The district’s certification database confirmed he was certified to coach in Florida.

 

Neither Faso nor Cogdell could be reached for comment Monday.

 

Broward Schools, assisted by the Florida High School Athletic Association, began investigating Miramar and its football program in late October, after Strout made allegations following his resignation.

 

His list of accusations included rampant academic fraud, the team fielding ineligible players and giving out cash and gifts, he said, “to keep players happy.”

 

“The lesson to be learned is to take nothing for granted with every job posted,” Huttenhoff said. “Everybody does a background check for criminal. This is the first time we’ve ever had a situation where there’s been drastic lying on a resume.

 

“We have to be more astute and not take for granted anybody you hire in a head coaching capacity.”

Ex-Miramar coach Strout faked transcript, Ohio State says

Sports  |  Nov. 25, 2014  |  Page 1A, 6A

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