A Tampa Tribune reporter was fired Thursday after she admitted to manipulating the results of this year’s Guy Toph Award, Hillsborough County schools’ oldest athletic honor.
Rozel A. Lee (above) was among 19 journalists and high school coaches who ranked eight top football players competing for the award, which considers athletics, leadership and academics.
Lee, 51, who had worked at the Tribune for 10 years, gave her top selection to Robinson High senior Marcello Trigg, who ultimately won the award Jan. 20 with 135 points.
But Lee said she intentionally gave her lowest ranking to Jarred Fayson, a move that knocked the star Hillsborough High quarterback into second place by two points. Due to the ranking system, Fayson would have won had Lee ranked him fifth or higher. Lee was the only voting member to rank him lower than fifth.
Ten coaches ranked both players in their top three selections for the county’s highest football award.
Lee said Fayson is an exceptional athlete and gifted student, but she intentionally placed him last to reduce his points and increase Trigg’s chance of winning.