Former FHSAA Commissioner Ronald N. Davis Passes Away

GAINESVILLE, FLA. (1/18/19) – Ronald N. Davis, who served as the Florida High School Athletic Association Commissioner from July 1, 1991-Jan. 15, 1999, died Thursday after a long battle with Dementia with Lewy Body. He was 82.

Born Dec. 19, 1936, Davis was best remembered for holding the Association together during a tumultuous period where the organization almost split between public member schools and private member schools. Using his leadership skills to unite both parties after an internal struggle, the Laurel Hill School graduate fought off the very right to exist by the Florida Legislature. As a result of his tenacity and persistence, the Florida Legislature gave the FHSAA statutory recognition in 1997 as the official governing body for interscholastic athletics in Florida.

Credited with paving the Association’s way into the next century, Davis was also responsible for making the FHSAA a nationwide technology leader among high school athletic associations. Under his leadership, the FHSAA was one of the first associations nationally to report and track student eligibility electronically. Davis also oversaw the development and creation of the FHSAA’s first website, which became a vital tool for communication with member schools, officials, the news media and the general public. FHSAA Online was one of the first high school athletic association websites in America, featuring updated brackets for each state championship tournament, news releases, agendas for and minutes of official meetings and the complete member school directory.

Much of the FHSAA infrastructure in place currently was a direct result of Davis, who gave his constituents direct access in the decision-making process by instituting advisory committees for athletic directors, officials and coaches in every sport in which the FHSAA conducted a championship. During his tenure, the Public Liaison Advisory Committee and Sports Medicine Advisory Committee were also created. Furthermore, Davis nearly doubled the Association’s staff from 10 full-time members and one part-timer to 19 full-time members and two part-timers, while also buying a new office building.

Under Davis’ leadership, the FHSAA negotiated agreements with corporate partners and instituted an officially licensed souvenir merchandise program that helped the Association grow financially without negatively impacting its member schools. Championship series’ revenues increased in some cases fourfold.

The former Crestview High School principal emphasized the importance of recognizing schools and individuals who achieved success in areas other than those in which the Association awards championships. During his time at the FHSAA, he established four special recognition programs – the FHSAA Hall of Fame, the Fred E. Rozelle Sportsmanship Awards, the Floyd E. Lay All Sports Awards and the FHSAA Academic All-State Team. Upon his retirement, the academic award was named in his honor. 

Funeral services will be held at the Forest Grove Baptist Church in Alachua on Jan. 20 at 2 p.m., with burial to follow at the Forest Grove Cemetery. Visitation will take place one hour prior to the service at the church.

In lieu of flowers, the family would request donations to the Paso Fino Horse Foundation, Inc., P.O. Box 1860, Alachua, Florida, 32616 to fund youth scholarships. In the past 15 years, the foundation, which is chaired by his daughter Marcia and long supported by the Davis family, has assisted children involved in the Paso Fino breed attend college or vocational school. To date, the foundation has awarded more than $180,000 in college tuition and assisted more than 55 young riders to purse their academic dreams.

ABOUT THE FHSAA

The Florida High School Athletic Association supervises and regulates interscholastic athletic programs for high school students at member public, private and charter schools. The organization also recognizes and honors academic achievement among student-athletes at almost 800 middle, junior and senior high schools statewide. Headquartered in Gainesville, it is the official governing body for interscholastic athletics in Florida.

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