FHSAA Board Adopts New Safety Rules, Acts on Affiliation Applications
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The Board of Directors of the Florida High School Athletic Association this week took action on several matters, including new rules designed to improve the safety of student-athletes regarding concussions and heat-related illness. Other rule changes affect girls' softball, flag football and volleyball. In addition, the Board directed the Sunshine Independent Athletic Association to amend its pending application for affiliate membership in the National Federation of High School Associations, in order to correct deficiencies so it may meet state and national requirements. The Board also denied the application of the Panhandle Christian Conference for affiliate membership in the national federation.
The Board adopted a new concussion and heat-related illness form to comply with the provisions of new legislation adopted to protect the boys and girls who participate in FHSAA-sanctioned activities. The agenda items considered by the Board, including the safety-related items and sports rules changes, can be viewed at http://www.fhsaa.org/node/8211.
"Coaches, administrators and policy makers have grown increasingly aware of the long-term risks posed by concussions and heat-related illnesses, and the FHSAA will do its part to ensure that our student-athletes are protected as much as possible," said FHSAA Executive Director Dr. Roger Dearing.
As the Board considered two organizations' requests to be affiliated with the National Federation of State High School Associations, Dearing advised members to weigh the applications under the standards of House Bill 1403, which Governor Scott signed last week but has not yet taken effect.
In addition, the Board encouraged the Sunshine Independent Athletic Association to modify its application to better conform with requirements of the national federation and state law. The Board said it will continue consideration of the matter after expressing concerns that deficiencies with the submitted SIAA application would likely have resulted in denial by the national federation. FHSAA staff offered to work with the SIAA to clarify language regarding various issues including student eligibility, academic requirements, financial assistance, enrollment and attendance, and years of participation. The SIAA was invited to return to the Board for approval as early as June if it has finished revising its application.
"We appreciate the SIAA's desire to be affiliated with the National Federation of State High School Associations and look forward to the day when student-athletes at SIAA schools can become a part of the larger family of high school athletes," Dearing said. "However, the application the SIAA submitted to us still needs some work, and we look forward to assisting the SIAA in developing a clear and complete application that will ensure that it meets all the requirements of the national federation and state law."
The Board also turned down the request of the Panhandle Christian Conference because the organization did not provide sufficient information in its application. The Board did not believe the seven pages of Constitution and Bylaws presented by the conference were sufficiently comprehensive to effectively guide activities, and representatives of the conference were not on hand to answer any questions pertaining to the Constitution.
The Board also:
- Approved addiing a two-yard belt from endline to endline on flag football fields
- Approved experiment of softball pitchers being required to keep both feet on rubber at start of the pitch and prohibiting stepping backward during the pitch
- Approved use of red flags by line judges during all State Series contests in volleyball
- Discussed policies regardiing international and immigrant students