Last week, Hahnville High School all but secured its playoff spot in the Class 5A football playoffs with a gritty win at Central Lafourche — and its postseason outlook just got a whole lot more interesting.
Hahnville senior quarterback Andrew Robison has been officially ruled eligible to play through arbitration, a decision confirmed by the St. Charles Parish Public School District Tuesday evening.
Robison was ruled athletically ineligible by the Louisiana High School Athletic Association in August, as result of an investigation triggered by accusations by Robison’s former school, Vandebilt Catholic, that Hahnville recruited Robison illegally and that the Robison family had not made a “bona fide” move into the Hahnville school district. Hahnville was also fined and Tigers head coach Nick Saltaformaggio was suspended for the first four games of the season.
Making the matter all the more controversial was that Robison’s departure from Vandebilt followed that school’s decision to let the contract his father, Drew Robison, expire. The elder Robison was the head basketball and an assistant football coach at the school.
But an arbitrator has overturned that decision, and declared that Hahnville and Saltaformaggio committed no wrongdoings.
“The previous rulings and sanctions issued by the LHSAA Executive Director and upheld by the Executive Committee to student-athlete Andrew Robison, Coach Saltaformaggio and Hahnville High School have been overturned by the arbitrator,” said St. Charles Parish Public Schools spokeswoman Stevie Crovetto in a statement released Monday night. “The arbitrator ruled that the finding of illegal recruitment is arbitrary and capricious and that the family did complete a bona fide move. During this time, the school has sought a fair, unbiased hearing through arbitration and we are extremely thankful that the arbitrator ruled on the facts surrounding the case.”
Robison was sidelined for Hahnville’s scrimmage, jamboree and the first nine weeks of the prep regular season. His appeal of the decision was denied and a compromise proposal presented by both Hahnville and Vandebilt Catholic to the LHSAA was also reportedly rejected.
But it appears his long wait to play for the Tigers is finally over—Robison is eligible to play on Friday night when the Tigers take the field at H.L. Bourgeois—ironically in a return to the Houma area, where Robison played at Vandebilt Catholic.
“Throughout this lengthy process, Hahnville High School has maintained its innocence and has worked through the proper channels established by LHSAA through an appeal and request for arbitration,” Crovetto said. “The school has strived to follow the procedures outlined by LHSAA, despite the lack of due process afforded to the school, the withholding of requested information, and unsuccessful attempts in working with LHSAA and the LHSAA Executive Committee for a resolution.
“We are thankful that we can move forward knowing that the correct decision has been rendered on all accounts and we can continue to focus on what matters most, our students, our school and our community.”
The addition of Robison to the HHS lineup is as significant as one might imagine given the attention his case has received statewide. He established himself as one of the state’s top prep players while playing at Vandebilt and his addition to Hahnville was expected to cement the Tigers as a prime contender to return to the Class 5A championship game for the second straight season.
Hahnville is 4-5 this season, and a win Friday night would even its record and likely place the team around the 20th seed in the state playoffs.