Transfer debate continues in Florida high schools

October 17, 2014 / Football
Florida’s high school transfer laws allow athletes to jump from one school to another without penalty, and some coaches are fed up with it.

A recent article at highlighted one football coach in particular who lost nine players to a rival school (it just so happens those two teams play each other this week). Fort Walton Beach High School coach Mike Owens accused the school of recruiting his kids, but an investigation by the district found no evidence to support that claim.

From the article:

Owens told the Daily News he would favor a policy in which students transferring from one county school to another for purely athletic reasons be considered ineligible to participate for a year.

The Florida Legislature has “handcuffed” the Florida High School Athletic Association by passing laws that make transferring from school to school easy, Owens said.

“I don’t think it’s right,” he said. “What are we teaching? ‘Kids, we didn’t have a very good season. What you gonna do? Transfer?’”

State Sen. Kelli Stargell, R-Lakeland, said laws regarding student transfers were changed three years ago to make transferring less difficult.

The move was made with the idea of allowing students “a full, enriched, academic and athletic experience” in the educational environment that best suits them, Stargell said.

“You can’t tell a kid you can’t have that opportunity,” Stargell said. “A child has the right to choose and participate in a good program.”

This battle is fought in many states, but few laws are as lenient as Florida’s. Earlier this year, Coach and Athletic Director conducted a survey on illegal recruiting at the high school level, and 77 percent of coaches said they believed coaches in their area actively recruit athletes from other schools.

Athletics are intended to support and enhance the educational experience, not be the sole purpose for attendance. That gives merit to Owens’ idea that student-athletes making a sports-related transfer should be forced to sit out a year. Then again, there are valid arguments on both sides of the debate.

Have thoughts on the issue? Leave them in the comments section below, or send an email to [email protected].

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