Slight changes involved in new high school athletic transfer law
Saturday, June 30, 2012
by Jeff Greer
July 1 stood as a sort of a D-Day for Florida high school sports when Gov. Rick Scott this spring signed into law several changes to the way high school student-athlete transfers are monitored.
But as the new law takes effect Sunday, local administrators and coaches say not much will actually change. The day that was once considered an opening of transfer floodgates now appears to be just another Sunday.
"It really won't have as big of an effect as some people think," said Seminole Ridge football coach Matt Dickmann. "Honestly, the new rule doesn't change much."
The way school officials process student-athlete transfers marks the biggest change in policy.
Before the new law was signed, student-athletes seeking to transfer sent residency verifications and other documents to the Florida High School Athletic Association, and the FHSAA approved or blocked the student's athletic eligibility at a new school. The academic side was handled by the school districts.
If the move came after the school year began, the player had to wait a year to compete in sports but could still enroll in the school.
Instead, with the new law in place, the student-athletes apply for transfer approval through the school district if the move is to a public school, or to the governing body of the private school they wish to attend. The receiving school's principal must complete a form signing off on the move and send it to the FHSAA for review. If the move is OK, the student-athlete is immediately eligible.
The School District of Palm Beach County has not responded to multiple questions about how it plans to handle the new setup .
Punishments for illegal recruiting also changed. The FHSAA still plans to pursue allegations of illegal recruiting, but instead of forcing a player to sit out the remainder of the season if it's proven the player was recruited, penalties will focus more on the adults involved - coaches, administrators or other representatives.
The school's programs could be forced to move up to a larger classification, pay significant fines or other forms of sanctions, and individual adults could face serious fines or be banned .
Area coaches say recruiting will still be as prevalent as it was before, regardless of the new, harsh consequences.
"I thought it already was a free-for-all," joked Jupiter Christian football coach Bill Powers. "I know our policies (at Jupiter Christian) won't change at all. I think the schools that the law would change or affect will find a way around it anyway."
The FHSAA sent out a long-form question-and-answer letter to athletic administrators and media members Thursday to explain the new law, which was proposed by state Rep. Kelli Stargel of Lakeland.
Athletic directors will meet with an FHSAA representative at an Aug. 9 seminar in Broward County, a conference that's expected to clear up questions.
Initially, critics of the new law were concerned that it would prevent the FHSAA from fully monitoring transfers. There were fears that student-athletes would be able to change schools as they wished, bouncing from sport to sport based on which school had the best programs, or even leaving mid-season for another program.
John I. Leonard Athletic Director Scott Siegel said such worries were unfounded and that the FHSAA's collaboration with schools, administrators and coaches has more than made up for the organization's original distaste for the law.
"The FHSAA has been fantastic," Siegel said. "You still must produce verification in some way of where you live, and you still cannot recruit. So little has actually changed."