House Education Committee to hear proposed bill to replace FHSAA

House Education Committee to hear proposed bill to replace FHSAA


House Education Committee to hear proposed bill to replace FHSAA


The Florida Legislature gave the Florida High School Athletic Association statutory recognition as the official governing body of interscholastic athletics in 1997.

Now, it is seeking to take away the title.

The state House of Representatives Education Committee will hear a proposed bill Thursday seeking to replace the FHSAA, which has a total of over 800 member schools, with a nonprofit association approved by the state Board of Education by July 1, 2017.

The 61-page draft entitled “An act relating to extracurricular activities” and a similar draft circulating through the Senate provides requirements for the governance structure of the nonprofit association designated by the commissioner of education for prep sports.

While area athletic directors Sam Sirianni of Fort Myers and Brian Conn of Ida Baker have had their issues with the FHSAA in the past, neither can see any reason to phase out the nonprofit private organization, which sponsors 3,396 championship series games through which 139 teams and 294 individuals are crowned state champions in 32 sports each year.

“This is a very slippery slope,” Sirianni said. “I really hope people come to their senses. We’re on the verge of a major, major catastrophe with high school athletics. You have to have a governing body that knows what it’s doing. You need to leave athletics to those that have done it.”

Conn agrees.

“Adding something else to the plate of the state Board of Education doesn’t seem like a good idea,” Conn said.

The FHSAA added a “call to action” page to its website Monday citing some of the major changes the proposed bill could enact.

“Right now, we’re monitoring the progress of the bill,” FHSAA spokesman Corey Sobers said. “We’re focusing on informing our membership of the potential changes and impact it could have down the road.”

The bill seeks to allow students of public or non-member schools with fewer than 125 students to play a sport at any school in their county if it’s not offered at their school. The current system designates students to play for schools in their zone based on residence.

It also narrows down its criteria for students to be ruled ineligible. Grade point average, falsifying information and impermissible benefits make up the criteria and take out factors such as a student’s residence, school zone assignment and age. Students older than 19 years and 9 months are not eligible to play high school athletics under the current rules, which would be eliminated.

Messages left for House Education Committee chair Rep. Marlene O’Toole and vice chair Rep. Keith Perry weren’t returned.


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