The Eligibility and Compliance Services Department
“Showing the Way: Mentorship. Education. Service.”
The Florida High School Athletic Association Eligibility and Compliance Services Department provides assistance to FHSAA member schools by determining student eligibility. With a mission to mentor, educate, and serve FHSAA member schools, the department hosts interactive webinars and seminars and conducts onsite school visits to assist in school compliance with FHSAA Bylaws and Policies.
Eligibility and Compliance Services also oversees the investigative process, if warranted, and facilitates the appeals process as it relates to due process afforded member schools, coaches, and students. The Eligibility and Compliance Services Department supports the Purpose of the Association by applying the Bylaws, Policies and Administrative Procedures in an equitable manner (Reference Bylaw 1.2).
Previous Contact: Bylaw 9.2.4
In August of 2013, the FHSAA issued a “core values” survey to each of its member schools. Based on the feedback, FHSAA staff identified Bylaw 9.2.4 (Participation in Non-School Athletic Activities Affiliated with a School) as the most common source of eligibility appeals during the past two-and-a-half years. A concern was that student-athletes were being ruled ineligible for a 365-day period without any option to participate in any sport, on any level. Additionally, after internal research, it was determined that 46 percent of bylaw 9.2.4 appeals stemmed from student-athletes completing their terminal grade. Subsequently, students began attending high schools outside of their zone and playing for a coach they had previous contact with through a non-school activity. With this information, the FHSAA proactively created a proposal to safeguard fair play while offering provisions for immediate eligibility in the aforementioned situations.
The following graphs display the bylaws appealed at the Sectional Appeals level. This data was a contributing factor in determining the direction of the non-school team participation bylaw.
Sectional Appeals Comparison 2011-2012
Sectional Appeals Comparison 2012-2013
Sectional Appeals Comparison 2013-2014 (August-January)
The 2014 FHSAA Representative Assembly, at its January meeting, approved a bylaw proposal that addresses enrollment changes for athletic purposes in situations where a student-athlete plays for another school’s coach on a club team or similar non-school activity and then changes schools to play for that coach. Under this new “previous contact” standard, enrolling student-athletes may be allowed to play at their new school in sports that do not involve the coach in question and may even play the affected sport at a sub-varsity level.
Under the recently approved bylaw, which will go into effect on July 1, 2014, a student-athlete may compete without interruption if the last grade he or she attended was the final grade offered at the previous school. This change will most typically benefit eighth graders whose decision to attend a high school outside their regular zone results in them playing for a coach they met through a non-school activity. This is expected to greatly reduce the number of appeals. As shown in the graph below, ninth graders account for the majority of appeals based on non-school team participation.
9.2.4 Sectional Appeals Comparison by Grade Level