The Florida State Senate heard two competing reform bills on Thursday aimed at changing the way the Florida High School Athletic Association conducts itself.
SB 684 is sponsored by Republican state Senators Don Gaetz and Kelli Stargel. The bill also finds support with the PreK-12 Education Committee.
One of the biggest provisions the bill makes is that it would ease eligibility requirements for high school athletics. But it also sets high penalties against recruiting, creating $5,000 pay forfeitures, suspensions, and even revocations of teaching certificates for teachers and others found liable.
The other bill, SB 1026, is sponsored by state Senator David Simmons and shares many similarities with SB 684.
It includes a section allowing schools to join the association on a per sport basis, rather than under a full membership.
Some critics question whether this provision allows for cherry-picking, pointing out that only five sports are considered moneymakers for schools – football, baseball, basketball, wrestling and cheerleading. These sports help subsidize other athletics.
Another critique of the bill, made by State Senator Jeff Clemens, was about a provision requiring the association to take no more in revenue than it needs to operate.
“I just want to make sure we’re not making it so they can’t operate anymore,” he said.
Simmons said the goal of the provision was to ensure the association doesn’t use its fees “as a moneymaker,” not to “punish someone for whatever reason.”
Both bills have two more committee stops before they can reach the floor.