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Floyd E. Lay

Inducted 1991 (charter class)

Student, athlete, teacher, coach, official, supervisor and administrator, Floyd E. Lay has touched all the bases during a distinguished 40-year career in the field of public education.

Born in Piedmont, Ala., he was reared in Lakeland, Fla., where he was a multi-sport standout in both high school and college. Lay earned four letters in baseball, three letters in basketball and captained both teams at Lakeland High School. He played three years of varsity basketball at Florida Southern College, where he also served as captain.

Lay earned his undergraduate degree in three years with a major in science and a minor in math. His master’s degree was received from the same institution with a major in educational administration and supervision. In the 1939 State AAU Basketball Tournament he set a national single-game tournament scoring record with 41 points. He was selected to the all-star basketball teams in high school, college and AAU competition.

Following graduation from college in 1941, he became head basketball coach, head baseball coach and assistant football coach at DeSoto County High School in Arcadia. He taught physics, math and physical education.

After four years service in the Army Air Corps, he returned to Lakeland and was appointed Supervisor of Physical Education for Lakeland Public School, and later served as Director of Educational Services for the Polk County School System from 1946-1956.

For many years he excelled as a high school and collegiate sports official in basketball and baseball, and conducted rules clinics throughout Florida and in several other states. He officiated 12 consecutive state high school basketball tournaments and umpired numerous district and state high school baseball tournaments. He served as a Southeastern Conference basketball official for 11 years, and officiated the first three Gator Bowl Basketball Tournaments. He also served as an umpire in two National Federation baseball rules films, “Baseball for Millions” and “Baseball by The Code,” and on the National Federation basketball rules film, “Basketball for Millions.”

Lay joined the staff of the Florida High School Activities Association as Director of Field Services on July 1, 1956. He became chief executive officer on Mar. 29, 1963. During his tenure in that office, the FHSAA developed one of the nation’s finest high school athletic and non-athletic programs. Lay served on the executive committee of the National Federation of State High School Associations from 1972-76, and was its president from 1975-76. He was a member of the NFHS Football Rules Committee for 22 years, was the chairman of the NFHS Girls Basketball Rules Committee, and was a member of the NFHS Boys Basketball Rules Committee. Lay was also active as a member of the U.S. Olympic Basketball Committee, acting as vice-chairman from 1972-80, and was on the Board of Directors from 1964-80.

Lay is a member of seven halls of fame: the National High School Sports Hall of Fame, Florida Sports Hall of Fame, Florida High School Athletic Hall of Fame, Florida Southern College Sports Hall of Fame, Polk County Sports Hall of Fame, Polk County Schools Hall of Fame, and the Lakeland High School Athletic Hall of Fame. He received the Distinguished American Award from the National Football Federation in 1978.

In August 1941, Lay married Laretha Anne Lord, also a Florida Southern graduate. They celebrated their golden wedding anniversary on Aug. 31, 1991. They have three children, Sandra, Jim and Sharon, and four grandchildren.