Florida HB 1403/ SB 1704 Scheduled to be Taken Up Today – Could Have Major Impact on Florida High School Sports

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Today in Tallahassee the Florida Senate is taking up SB 1704.  This is a bill which is intended to reign in, what some folks would are calling, “overzealous enforcement of eligibility rules without due process.”

There is overwhelming concern from most coaches and athletic directors that the Senate bill (SB1704) designates the breakout Sunshine Independent Athletic Association as “the” governing body of athletics for Florida’s private schools.  They predict the “Wild West” and “Chaos.”

We are reminded a little bit of the situation in Maryland where the MIAA and the Public Schools play in completely separate leagues with completely different rules.  It works for them, with the MIAA sporting some of the best teams in the country, but would it work here?  This doesn’t only effect lacrosse, but all high school sports.  And right now the SIAA doesn’t even have any lacrosse teams in it.

However, we spoke with the office of Representative Kelli Stargel of Lakeland today (who sponsored the bill.)  We were told that there is no such language in the HB 1403, although there is language in the Senate version that does mention a secondary part.  The House version of the bill, which has passed the house, is being offered as an amendment to the Senate version.  So what comes out of the Florida Senate today should be very close to the house version of the bill.

The House bill does not mention any secondary part (Such as the SIAA) but does mandate that any group that can organize and meet certain requirements should be recognized.  But no school, private or not, will be required to join any group or leave the FHSAA.  But it will make that option more readily available.

This is actual text taken from the House of Representative Staff Analysis;

The bill allows a student who has transferred from one public school in the district to another during the school year, pursuant to approval by the district school board, to remain eligible for athletic competition at FHSAA member schools, and allows a public school student athlete who transfers to a private school to participate in any sport offered by the private school. The bill permits student transfers during the school year without loss of eligibility. The bill reforms recruiting sanctions and investigations by requiring that the FHSAA bylaws:
Provide that a school may be required to pay a fine and participate in a higher competitive division for the sport in which a recruited student competes; Establish sanctions for coaches who have committed major violations such as allowing an ineligible student to participate in a contest representing a member school or violating FHSAA’s recruiting or sportsmanship policies; Require coaches to reimburse a member school assessed a financial penalty due to the coach’s violation of FHSAA policies; Prevent unfair punishment of students for the violations of adults; Prevent student ineligibility for violating recruiting rules unless the student or parent falsifies documents or accepts a prohibited inducement; and Regulate investigators and establish guidelines investigators must follow when conducting investigations.

We encourage you to follow the links below to see the rest of the analysis as well as the bill itself.  This is a very important matter for all Florida high school athletes, parents, and coaches.

Text

Analysis

Everything about the bill