Florida legislature could dismantle state athletic association

March 25, 2015 / Athletic Administration
Florida’s House Education Committee on Thursday will consider a proposal that would strip the state’s athletic association of most of its power.

FHSAAThe Florida High School Athletic Association believes the bill would create a “free agency” of high school athletes, allowing them to transfer schools for athletic reasons without penalty. Coaches and athletic administrators have expressed their concern over the move, but the House committee is expected to vote on Thursday.

According to the FHSAA, the proposal:

• Promotes school choice for athletic purposes, allowing students to attend one school while playing for another.

• Prohibits private schools and school boards from adopting more stringent rules on transfers.

• Limits ineligibility to just three criteria: GPA, falsifying information and impermissible benefits. It eliminates age, years of play, etc.

The Miami Herald reported that the bill would “establish that parents have the same authority over interscholastic athletics that is equal to the authority of a member school.”

The FHSAA has more than 800 member schools. If the bill is approved, the organization would be replaced by a nonprofit association approved by the state Board of Education by 2017.

Here is some reaction, as reported by the Tampa Bay Times:

“That bill is either sarcasm or satire,” Pinellas Park football coach Kenny Crawford said. “It is what (it) is: a joke.”

“The legislature already has a tough task running an entire state,” Countryside athletic director Greg Zornes said. “It seems like there’s an awful lot of time spent discussing high school sports. To me, it seems like politics are involved. It’s not good for high school athletics. It would be hard to govern high school sports without an agency like the FHSAA involved. It has a lot of good people working for it and has done great things.” 

“I love to coach, love it, love it, love it. But if I have to go through another year of stress because of all this recruiting stuff, where I don’t sleep at night because I have worry about somebody leaving, it’s not worth it,” Northeast football coach Jeremy Frioud said. “…It seems like the parents, and it is the parents, can do whatever they want. And if a bill like this passes it’s going to be even worse.’’

Coaches say that athletic transfers are already a problem in Florida, and many are concerned this would create a “free-for-all.” Athletic directors at small school districts believe many student-athletes would flee to participate in bigger programs.

More information can be found at the FHSAA website.

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