Bill limiting FHSAA's authority heads to Florida Senate

Bill limiting FHSAA's authority heads to Florida Senate

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Public high school sports teams in Florida belong to a 93-year-old governing body, but a bill in the state legislature would give it a shakeup.

Board members of the Florida High School Athletic Association are tasked with keeping the playing field level for all students and schools in the state.

Private schools can join if they choose, and Bishop Moore High School in Orlando is one private school that does so, an endorsement for the FHSAA, at least according to executive director Roger Dearing.

"We have 800 member schools, and each school represents themselves on a fair and level playing field to compete," Dearing said.

But Rep. Larry Metz, R-Yalaha, the lawmaker sponsoring HB 1279, said the FHSAA holds too many cards, and the board needs a shakeup.

"It opens up the door for nefarious recruiting, which shouldn't be allowed," Metz said. "Basically, it legislates cheating."

Metz's bill would place four-year term limits on board members, require the executive director to be confirmed by the state senate and cap salary and expenses. It would also limit the association's authority to investigate recruiting violations.

Critics say if the bill passes the Senate, it will decimate the state's athletic program.

"It's not good for the kids, not good for the school," Orange County Athletic Director Gary Preisser said.

"The school spirit isn't going to be there, and that's what it is all about. Being in high school is a one-time deal, and I think the emphasis needs to go more toward the athletes. And some of the adults need to make sure they follow those guidelines," Preisser said.

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