With the help of two former NFL players turned high school football coaches, the Florida High School Athletic Association spoke out Tuesday against pending state legislation that would limit its ability to rule on high school athletes’ eligibility.
FHSAA executive director Roger Dearing and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mike Alstott and Reidel Anthony were part of a conference call with state media to address its concerns regarding Senate Bill 1164 and recently proposed House Bill 1279 — both of which would allow students to change high schools in order to play for a different team as long as they meet the academic and athletic requirements of that school.
House Bill 1279, sponsored by Lake County state representative Larry Metz, passed unanimously recently through a legislative subcommittee, and follows up the earlier Senate Bill 1164 proposal, sponsored by Lakeland Sen. Kelli Stargel. The recent House Bill would call for severe cuts to FHSAA revenue, cut Dearing’s salary, and calls for his termination as FHSAA director on June 30 with a replacement of all 16 of the association’s board members Sept. 30.
Illegal recruiting has long been an issue in high school sports.
The new legislature has raised concerns that it would allow for rampant and blatant acts of recruiting by high school coaches while limiting the FHSAA’s ability to maintain a level playing field for the nearly 260,000 student-athletes in 32 sports it currently governs.
Under the new legislature, before the FHSAA can suspend a student or coach for violating rules, including those prohibiting recruiting and regulating high school athletic transfers, the association must obtain a final order from the state Division of Administrative Hearings. Dearing said that process could take months or even years to complete while allowing individuals in question to continue to participate in high school events.
“The FHSAA continues to stand for fair competition,” Dearing said. “The changes these bills propose would undermine sportsmanship and shatter community spirit by allowing some high schools to become recruiting-frenzied sports giants while others are left to fall by the wayside. Our kids deserve to grow up playing sports in an environment that promotes fairness, teamwork and playing by the rules.”
Tallahassee-based initiative “The Access for Student Athletes Coalition” issued a statement Tuesday supporting the legislature arguing for student rights and due process and calling for the FHSAA to end its opposition of both bills.
“Current law and this new legislation would not allow for illegal recruiting, nor for wholesale free agency, as the FHSAA claims,” Stargel said in the statement. “This proposal would not prevent the FHSAA from fulfilling their primary role; however, it would help combat their predisposition to consider students as guilty until proven innocent, and would establish true due process and rights for student athletes, which the current system of conducting investigations clearly lacks.”
Alstott, a former All-Pro fullback for the Bucs, is the head football coach at Northside Christian in St. Petersburg. Anthony, a former standout receiver at the University of Florida, is the offensive coordinator at Belle Glade Glades Central.
Both voiced their concerns, with Alstott comparing the new rules the legislature would create the equivalent to a “high school free agency.”
“There is a place for free agency, and it’s called the NFL,” Alstott said. “And there is a place for recruiting. It’s called college. There is no place for either of those in high school football.”
Anthony added: “The last thing these kids need is a process that invites open recruiting of high school athletes. It’s hard enough for top players to keep a level head when the colleges come calling — it will be almost impossible for younger kids to resist that attention from other high schools.
“The idea that a kid could live in one part of town, play football for a school in another part of town, and then transfer to play basketball at an entirely different school, is not what high school sports is supposed to be all about,” Anthony said.
HIALEAH 5, BATTLE GROUND ACADEMY (TN) 4
WP: Kevin Betancourt (2-0). LP: Tucker Beathard. Top performers: Mauricio Cajuso 2-3, RBI. Nestor Cortes 2-3. Michael Rodriguez save. HIA 12-3
SELECTIVE RECRUITING/ SIR PIZZA INVITATIONAL RESULTS
SOUTHWEST 5, LASALLE 3
WP: Alex Perera (3-0). LP: Anders Gutierrez. Top performers: Luis Gutierrez 2-3, HR, 2 RBI. Hernen Sardinas 3-4, walk-off 2-run HR. SW 7-6-1.
FERGUSON 13, AMERICAN 6
WP: Sergio Ramos (2-0). Top performers: Chris Bec 3-4, 3 runs. Asniel Rodriguez 3-5, 4 RBI. Javier Valdes 3-4, double, RBI.
SUNSET 3, ST. BRENDAN 2
WP: Austin Comesanas CG, 5K (4-0). Top performers: Nico Machado HR, game winning RBI. Michael Paez 2-2. SUN 11-4
RANSOM EVERGLADES 12, ARCHBISHOP CURLEY 1 (5)
WP: Royevan Armas 4IP, 9K. LP: Galeano. Top performers: Armas: 2-4, 2 RBI. Garret Rubin 2-4, 2 RBI, run, SB. Jimmy Gutierrez 2-2, RBI, run, SB. Ilan Lindenfeld 1-3, RBI, 2 runs, SB
BELEN 2, WESTERN 0
WP: Willie Fabra CG, 12K. Top performers: Pablo Cabrera 1-1, 2 RBI. Alex Lorenzo 1-3, run. David Guevara 1-3, run. Javi Herrera 1-2. BEL 11-4
KILLIAN 14, BRITO 3
WP: Keith Stevens. LP: Luis Forte. Top performers: Nick Mira 2-3, double, 2 RBI. Spencer Levine 2-3, 2 HR, 4 RBI. Mike Perez 2-4, HR, 4 RBI
LATE MONDAY — ARCHBISHOP MCCARTHY 14, BELEN JESUIT 4
WP: Jason Stettner. LP: David Villa.
LATE MONDAY — TERRA 14, SOUTHWEST 4 (6)
WP: Alexis Valladares. LP: Fernando Rabel. Top performers: Reuben Pino 4-5, 4 RBI. Alex Saavedra 3-4, 3 RBI. Tyler Prichard 2-4, HR, 4 RBI
GULLIVER 3, CORAL REEF 2
WP: Stephanie Texeira (3-0). Top performers: Stephanie Texeira 2-3, HR, RBI, 2 runs. Crystal Garcia 1-4, walk-off double, RBI. GUL 11-3
CHAMINADE 12, ARCHBISHOP CARROLL 3
WP: McCabe (11- 4). LP: Cinalli (7-4). Top performers: Gonzalez 2-3, 2 runs. Rieth 2-4, run, Grand Slam, 4 RBI. Yero 3-4, 3 runs, 2 RBI. CHA 11-5
CALVARY CHRISTIAN 6, MONSIGNOR PACE 1
WP: C. Chang (9-5). LP: Dominguez. Top performer: T. Deibel 2-2, 2 triples, 3 runs. CC 12-5
TRACK & FIELD
• Belen Jesuit 125, Northwest Christian 55, Mater 31, Archbishop Carroll 29, LaSalle 14, Westminster Christian 7: Belen won 3200 relay. Neptune (BEL) won 110 hurdles. Mitchell (NC) won long jump. Rogers (NC) won 100m. Lopez (BEL) won 1600m. Northwest Christian won 400 relay. Brimah (AC) won high jump. Rondon (BEL) won triple jump. Cerdeiras (LAS) won 400m. Francoeur (BEL) won 300 hurdles. Cash (BEL) won shot put. M. Smith (AC) won 800m. Gonzalez-Jacobo (BEL) won 200m. Magoulas (BEL) won 3200m. Belen won 1600 relay. Muniz (BEL) won pole vault.
Selective Recruiting/Sir Pizza Invitational - at St. Thomas University: Douglas vs. Ferguson, 10 a.m.; American vs. Miami High, 1; Mater Lakes vs. Sunset, 4:30; Columbus vs. Killian, 7:30; at Monsignor Pace: La Salle vs. Coral Reef, 4:30; Monsignor Pace vs. Dwyer, 7:30; at Archbishop McCarthy: Western vs. St. Brendan, 4:30; Jupiter vs. Archbishop McCarthy, 7:30; at North Broward Prep: West Broward vs. Brito, 1; Chaminade vs. Archbishop Carroll, 4:30; North Broward Prep vs. American Heritage, 7:30; at Florida Memorial University: Palmer Trinity vs. Braddock, 1; Westminster Christian vs. Pompano Beach, 4; at Southwest: South Miami vs. Doral Academy, 1; TERRA vs. Belen Jesuit, 4:30; Southwest vs. Mater Academy, 7:30.
Miami Christian vs. Miami Beach (Flamingo), 2
Westminster Academy at Miami Country Day, 7
Westland Hialeah at Ronald Reagan, 3:30
Southwest at Monsignor Pace, 5
BOYS’ WATER POLO
Southwest vs. Mourning (FIU North), 4
GIRLS’ WATER POLO
Southwest vs. Mourning (FIU North), noon