Florida State lawmakers have introduced a proposal to give Governor Ron DeSantis control over the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) Board. The bill, titled HB 1279, was introduced by State Representative Webster Barnaby on Tuesday and would give the governor the power to appoint all members of the FHSAA Board.
Currently, the FHSAA Board is made up of representatives from various regions throughout Florida, and they are responsible for making decisions regarding high school athletics in the state.
The FHSAA oversees sports for grades 6 through 12 for its member schools, which include all of the state’s public schools and other institutions which choose to join. 15 of the 16 board positions are selected by schools in four regions of the state while the 16th spot is reserved for the state education commissioner or their designee. Under the proposed legislation, the board would be reduced to eight members, all chosen by the governor, plus the education commissioner.
If this bill passes, the governor would have complete control over these decisions, including setting schedules, deciding on eligibility requirements, and even determining which sports are offered at the high school level.
Supporters of the bill argue that giving the governor control over the FHSAA Board would ensure that decisions are made in the best interest of the state and its athletes. They also argue that it would streamline the decision-making process and make it easier to implement changes.
However, opponents of the bill are concerned that it could politicize high school athletics and potentially harm student-athletes. They argue that decisions regarding high school athletics should be made by educators and administrators who have experience and expertise in this area.
The FHSAA has not yet commented on the proposed bill, and it remains to be seen whether it will gain enough support to pass. If it does pass, it would take effect on July 1st, 2023, and Governor DeSantis would have the power to make significant changes to high school athletics in Florida.