Our network

FHSAA may have less say over membership | HS Sports

Title (Max 100 Characters)

FHSAA may have less say over membership
HS Sports

Bradenton, Florida -- A bill on the Governor's desk would weaken the Florida High School Athletic Association's control. Senate Bill 1704 (HB 1403) is a bill the FHSAA says none of its 695 high school members support.

Manatee High School's head football Coach Joe Kennan is one of many athletic directors who says government should stay on the sidelines.

With 5 championships in 27 years of coaching under him, Kennan says SB 1704 and House Bill 1403 would do more harm than good to high school athletics.

"I am for less government smaller government. Most athletic directors I've talked to across the state are not in favor of this bill."

The bill would keep the Florida High School Athletic Association from denying membership to any school including private or charter. Some schools have been kicked out for not following FHSAA rules. Supporters say that's a problem.

Senator Thad Altman (R) Rockledge says, "This bill is about access, school access. We received complaints from many schools that because of excessive fines and violations, were unable to pay the fines, and they were denied access their kids denied access in sports leagues."

Coach Kennan says another problem with the bill pertains to eligibility. Right now, if a player transfers schools after the season begins they'd have to sit out the year before they can play again. The proposed bill would allow that student to play immediately.

"He could go to a private school at that school. So I think they are trying to hold coaches hostage to a certain extent. Kids will be out there shopping themselves going from place to place," explains Kennan.

Supporters of the bill say the FHSAA is too powerful.

"The way things are structured now discriminates against high school athletes," adds Senator Altman.

Coach Kennan is Manatee High School's FHSAA representative. He says the association makes sure everyone plays by the same rules.

The bill also calls for tougher sanctions against coaches for unethical recruiting, but it also puts the burden of proof on high school administrators to show the athlete was illegally recruited.

The FHSAA released this statement today:        

"FHSAA Executive Director Roger Dearing's statement regarding the 21-18 passing of SB 1704:

Out of the 695 FHSAA member high schools, not one of them was asking for this bill. We serve our member schools. This is not something that our member schools asked for, and certainly by the overwhelming objection from the schools, this is something they didn't want.

Who is this bill trying to serve? The FHSAA is part of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and almost every state has the same rules regarding transfers and eligibility. Our rules are not more stringent than other states and we base our rules on NFHS requirements.

We believe the Florida Legislature should let the FHSAA Board of Directors and the Representative Assembly determine the rules and policies for the Association. If the Governor signs this bill, we will work within the bill's parameters, but this is not good for interscholastic athletics in the state of Florida."

HS Sports

Manatee County Businesses