On the eve of Hahnville’s jamboree, the Tigers were dealt a heavy and perhaps season-altering blow, and many of us are still asking the same question … why?
The lack of transparency that’s surrounded the punishments levied against the school and its football program by the LHSAA has been almost as jarring as the severity — Hahnville will be without head coach Nick Saltaformaggio for four games and quarterback Andrew Robison for the entire season if the sanctions stand, the latter ruled ineligible because of what the LHSAA alleges are recruiting violations by HHS.
For the Tigers and Saltaformaggio, it’s a tough pill to swallow. And that’s nothing compared to what Robison must cope with — he’s a senior, and his career in high school athletics stands to suddenly be finished, and his chance of making a final strong impression on the several Division I schools who have been recruiting him — as well as others — in severe jeopardy.
We don’t know all the facts, ins and outs of this situation from start to finish, but what’s out there right now doesn’t look great for the LHSAA or Vandebilt Catholic, Robison’s former school which reportedly filed the complaint.
Robison’s transfer wasn’t a secret. It hasn’t been for months. Following a parting of ways between the senior quarterback’s father, former VCHS offensive coordinator Drew Robison, and Vandebilt Catholic after the school reportedly did not renew Robison’s contract. Following the school year, the younger Robison went on to enroll at Hahnville. It wasn’t a hidden, cloak and dagger operation — it was out in the open in May.
Fast forward to August, and Vandebilt reportedly logged an official complaint with the LHSAA on the matter on Aug. 14 — just nine days before Hahnville was to take the field in the jamboree with, one would assume, Robison as the quarterback. It was also just three days before the team’s preseason scrimmage, which the senior also had to sit out.
None of us know the circumstances around Drew Robison’s parting of ways with Vandebilt Catholic, but regardless of how it came about, it would seem reasonable to assume the younger Robison could be moving on, regardless of where he’d eventually end up.
As such, this doesn’t seem to be a case where Hahnville, or anyone else, could have truly “recruited” Robison away from his former school. The most likely scenario was that he’d be leaving.
The timing of the complaint seems especially curious, given how long after Robison’s transfer it was.
This affects many, many people beyond the principal parties. An entire football team had the rug pulled out from under them and was left with little time to regroup before its season.
Rules are rules and precedents have to be set; I get that. Yet last week, Vandebilt Catholic even expressed that it had no desire to see Robison punished in this manner. Good on them for coming forward with that, but the fact remains that as of this writing, whether it was their intention or not, Robison WAS pulled into this and remains ineligible. And it seems to be so because of a spat between adults representing different schools and interests.
Selfishly speaking, as a sportswriter in this area I hate that this happened. This season probably carried the highest combined expectations for Destrehan and Hahnville since I arrived at Herald-Guide in 2015, and maybe the best projection for the two schools combined since I began covering the River Region in 2007.
Each team has had runs on top and have gone into seasons with a big spotlight, but this was the best example I could recall of both teams being thought of as a Superdome threat (An All St. Charles Parish showdown in the Superdome? Fan me down, please).
Coach Salt has always been a class act to me — and is one of the most quotable guys I’ve been fortunate enough to cover in my years on the prep sports beat.
And by all accounts I’ve heard, Robison is a great player and person, and I was very much looking forward to seeing him in action.
And I certainly hope to still have that opportunity.