We have just been alerted that a bill we have been watching will be up for a vote in the Senate on Monday, January 30, at 3:30 p.m. The bill, SB 1704, can be found at http://www.flsenate.gov/PublishedContent/Committees/2010-2012/ED/MeetingRecords/ED_Jan_30_Meeting_Packet.pdf and begins on page 65, if you would like to read the complete bill.
SB 1704 creates a separate athletic association to govern private schools, and spills over into homeschool co-ops, in Florida. There are several reasons we feel that this bill should be defeated:
- Creating separate athletic associations for public and private schools is a huge step backward for high school athletics in Florida.
- The National Federation of State High School Athletics (NFHS) recognizes only one athletic association for membership from each state. The Florida High School Athletic Association was designated as the NFHS member association in 1920 and will remain THE designated association because it governs public school athletics in Florida.
- Membership in the NFHS establishes uniform rules for eligibility, recruiting and amateurism, etc. throughout the nation and thus gives colleges and universities confidence that a student-athlete from a member organization has been subjected to the same level of competitive play.
- The vast majority of private schools would not support a separate private school athletic association because without the NFHS membership their student-athletes’ abilities to receive college scholarships would be diminished.
- Some states have separate playoffs for public and private schools. Some public school members of the FHSAA have proposed this several times over the last 20 years. However, the private school members and enough public schools members recognized the value of a unified organization to defeat the proposal.
- Recruiting is the most difficult issue to control in high school athletics. In 2006, the Legislature created a Student Athlete Recruiting Task Force to examine how the FHSAA could better control recruiting by coaches and schools in Florida. The purpose was to ensure a more level playing field for all student-athletes. Read the report at: http://www.oppaga.state.fl.us/MonitorDocs/Reports/pdf/0665rpt.pdf
- The creation of a separate athletic association would open the door to greater recruiting by both public and private schools. A separate athletic association would not ensure an equal level of enforcement of recruiting.
- If private schools want their own association, they can create it without an act by the Legislature. There are already other private school athletic associations in the state.
If your Senator is on this committee, members are listed below, please call him or her and ask that they not support this bill. Please call before 3:30 p.m., as this is when the committee hearings will begin.
Should you be unsure what to say when you call, we suggest the following:
“Home education students are not in favor of forcing any private school or homeschool athletic co-op into a private school athletic association because it will diminish the competitive level of play in such. Please do not support SB 1704.”
Chair: Senator Stephen R. Wise (R)