Is the end of the High School Clubs upon us!!

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After speaking with FHSAA spokesman Seth Polansky this morning I would have to say the answer to that is no, it’s probably not. But on April 11th the FHSAA board of directors met and one of the topics for discussion was the issue of FHSAA member schools who field “Club” lacrosse programs.  The important point is that this was a “discussion” issue and not an “action” item on the agenda. 

A Benjamin school player shoots during the SFIA play-offs

The back story on the clubs and FHSAA goes back to an agreement that was put in place 5 years ago.  When FHSAA first recognized the sport of lacrosse the South Florida schools were already playing club lacrosse.  There was a deal with, then Director, Dr. Stewart.  The schools were given a three year grace period to monitor the growth of the sport and bring their programs into the FHSAA.  At the conclusion of that time period Dr. Steward retired and the deal just slipped through the cracks.

So two years later there are still schools that are not in compliance but have been offered full amnesty to bring their programs into compliance.  So what, exactly, is compliance?  The definition and offer of amnesty is outlined in a document titled Supplement U which can be downloaded at the link provided.  In a nutshell it states that a club is not really an club if the school;

Issues Uniforms

Allows the team the use of school owned equipment

Use the school’s parental consent forms etc.

Use the schools booster club for funding

Provides stipends for coaches and staff

Provides transportation

Allows the distribution of materials and announcements at the school (sign ups etc.)

Some of the club teams are true club teams.  This is true of the majority of teams in the Gulf Coast League.  They don’t take any money from the schools, either rent county parks or have a contract with the school for use of the fields (just like any local sports team can do) and provide their own insurance.  They can continue to play as clubs and use the school name and mascot as long as they comply with the requirements outlined in Supplement U. 

Many of the club teams that play in the SFIA are not currently in compliance and must make some changes.  One option is to simply play in the FHSAA which several schools have already sent letters to the FHSAA stating their intentions to do just that.  Others will have obstacles to overcome to do that such as funding for the teams and title IX issues.  Many of the public schools will either have to add girl’s lacrosse team or another girl’s sport to maintain the proper balance of sports opportunities required by title IX if they join FHSAA.  These issues are a big road block for some, including the Martin County teams.  If the Martin County schools choose to dis-associate themselves with the lacrosse teams but the teams around them join the FHSAA who would they play?  

If most of the club teams would join the FHSAA this would get the numbers up to the point where there could possibly be two teams per district going to the play-offs and would certainly result in additional and reformed districts.  But this will also put a heavy burden on some school districts that are already strapped for cash and can’t afford to fund one or two additional teams.  

Do you have thoughts on this subject or additional questions? Log in and leave them in the comments section.  We will do our best to find the answers and we intend to follow this story through-out the off-season.  The offer of amnesty only includes non-compliance through the end of the 2010-2011 season.  So this could be a fairly active off-season if many of these schools join the FHSAA.  Let’s hope the choice is either one of joining the FHSAA or bring clubs into full compliance and not the wholesale canceling of lacrosse seasons!