High School Sports

Proposed legislation could threaten Florida High School Athletic Association’s existence

The Florida High School Athletic Association is once again facing legislation that could radically alter the way high school athletics are governed.

And this time, the proposal threatens the FHSAA’s very existence.

The House Education Committee is scheduled to hear a proposed bill on high school athletics Thursday morning that would bring widespread changes, including giving the Department of Education’s Commissioner the power to replace the FHSAA with a nonprofit association (affiliated with the National Federation of State High School Associations) to govern interscholastic athletic competition by July 1, 2017.

The FHSAA posted the bill, summarized its major changes, and issued a statement on its website Monday where it urged its member schools to contact House Education Committee members to oppose the bill.

The association state that the bill would create “free agency” among high school athletes.

Among the major changes proposed by the 61-page bill:

▪ Prohibiting district school boards and private schools from adopting more stringent rules on transfers.

▪ Allowing schools to belong to multiple athletic associations by sport.

▪ Allowing students to attend public schools, home education, and non-member private schools (with less than 125 students), to attend one school and participate in any extracurricular activity at another if the activity is not offered at their school.

▪ Students would be determined ineligible only based on GPA, falsifying information and impermissible benefits. It would prohibit any eligibility being based on where a student lives, where a student is zoned, age, years of play, etc.

▪ It would establish that parents have authority over interscholastic athletics that is equal to the authority of a member school.

“These new rules would create chaos for public, private and charter schools across the board,” Greater Miami Athletic Conference Executive Secretary Cheryl Golden said.

The FHSAA has faced similar legislation over the past few years, but none has gone into effect.

Two years ago, state legislation out of north Florida was proposed that would allow students to change high schools in order to play for a different team as long as they met the athletic and academic requirements of that school.

In 2014, a bill allowing home-schooled and virtual school students to participate in activities at any public school or private school that agreed to let them enroll was passed by the Florida House of Representatives.

Scott Salomon contributed to this report.