FHSAA hosts compliance clinic to help schools understand House Bill 225

Posted at 6:33 PM, Jul 18, 2023

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — The Florida High School Athletic Association held a compliance seminar for athletic directors across the state of Florida Tuesday. One of the big topics? House Bill 225, and what it means for high school athletes, who can play where, who can't, and how everyone is trying to navigate the new rules.

"We, as staff, has focused on, and we tell each other every day, control what we can control," said FHSAA Executive Director Craig Damon.

That's what the FHSAA has tried to do since Governor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 225 in May, a bill that reshapes high school sports in the state of Florida.

"It's been difficult," said Damon. "Again, unlearning things we've done for years."

"I'm just intrigued how it'll play out for a year, and then from there, see what happens," said Scott Hansen, the director of student activities for Leon County Schools.

The Bill now allows any student who doesn't attend a school traditionally to play for any program, public, charter, or private. Another change? If a charter or public school doesn't offer a sport, a student can go to a public school in their district, or a private school, to play that sport, and capacity doesn't matter. However, capacity does matter for charter school, virtual school, and home education school students.

"You could play three different sports at three different schools, and come here and get your education and make sure you're on track to graduate and go to college."

Ed Hill is the executive director at Avant Schools of Excellence, a new K-12 school in Tallahassee that falls under the non-member private school category.

"We are going to be fully accredited, we will have AP courses, we will have dual enrollment, all of those things we will have," he said.

Under House Bill 225, his students can play for whoever, and how many schools, they like.

"It's school choice, and now it's athletic choice. To be it really benefits the kid, and that's what it's all about right?"

But there are concerns across the state.

"A fear that I've heard from different schools is that some of our counties could choose to have magnet sports programs, where they cancel sports at certain schools just to have one school in the county that represents the whole county that gives their school the best chance of winning a state championship," said Damon.

"You're getting these kids to play at the best schools they want, but you have them not getting the education they need to go to college," said Hansen.

Another issue is with member private schools, even if a sport is not offered, those students are not allowed to transfer under the Bill.

"Those student, per state statute, are stuck only playing the sports offered at that school. There is no option," said Damon.

Damon added one of his main missions this year is to bridge the gap between the organization and state legislators, and show them the great things things the student athletes from the state of Florida do every single day.