GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Three candidates vying to become the 10th Executive Director of the Florida High School Athletic Association, met with the Board of Directors early Sunday morning, before the Board finally settled on its top choice after three hours of interviews, discussion and voting.
In the end, former Marion County Superintendent of Schools, George D. Tomyn beat out current Louisana High School Athletic Association Executive Director, Eddie Bonine and former FHSAA Associate Executive Director of Administrative Services and current Indian River County Schools consultant, Dr. Peggy Jones to be named the FHSAA’s Executive Director-Elect.
However, getting to the final choice was not easy for the Board of Directors.
After leading off the morning with Bonine’s interview, Tomyn was the second, where he seemed to have swayed a lot of the board members early with his answers to the questions as selected by the five-person search committee made up of Board of Director Members.
Dr. Peggy Jones was the last of the three candidates to be interviewed but was the most knowledgeable candidate of the interworkings of the FHSAA.
During Bonine’s interview, he told the Board of Directors that he considered Florida one of the top five states he looks at for guidance within high school athletics and would consider leaving his current position in Louisiana for. Arizona, California, Ohio and Washington state were the other states mentioned by Bonine.
However, Bonine was willing to address the “proverbial dumpster fire” letter he wrote to the board members of the National Federation of State High School Associations in the summer of 2016 regarding the situation of high school athletics in Louisana. He told the Board of Directors that it was an “embarrassing situation” and one that he owned up to in the interview. Bonine previous thought the email had been sent in private, which later become a public record in Lousiana.
For Tomyn, he viewed his nearly 40-years in education including his four years as Marion County’s Superintendent of Schools, which is an elected position in that county, as a big plus.
One of the biggest things he pointed out to his success as Superintendent, was the painful process at the beginning of his tenure as Superintendent in 2012 where they had layoff nearly 1,000 first and second-year teachers as the district was below the minimum 3% fund balance requirement. With the layoffs and cuts elsewhere in the budget, they were able to quickly get things turned around and by the time he his term expired, 85% of the teachers that were laid off had been rehired and the minimum fund balance was at 6%.
In the final interview of the morning, Dr. Peggy Jones was no stranger to some of the members of the Board of Directors as well as the FHSAA. She cited her experience with the FHSAA as an important factor in why should be considered to be the next Executive Director as well as her experience with Dr. Dearing in the five years she worked for the association.
However, in the end, the interviews proved to be enough that the choice to selecting the next Executive Director was going to be anything, but easy.
After the first vote which came after the 11:00 a.m. EDT hour, the vote was down to a two-person race between Tomyn and Bonine. With a runoff slated, the Board of Directors quickly reconvened when a runoff was apparent to get a to a decision.
However, getting to that decision was once again not that easy as the runoff on the second ballot ended in a 7-7 tie between Tomyn and Bonine. Eight votes were needed for a majority to select a candidate for the position.
With the apparent need for a third ballot, the Board of Directors decided to have a more open discussion and why they felt a certain way about a candidate. That is when it became apparent there was more vocal support from the Board of Directors for Tomyn’s candidacy over Bonine’s.
In the end, a few of the votes that were for Bonine in the first runoff were flipped in favor of Tomyn to get the majority needed.
With the selection of Tomyn now made official, contract negotiations will begin between Tomyn, Leonard E. Ireland Jr., FHSAA’s legal counsel and FHSAA Board of Directors President, Mark Marsala with the expectation of a contract to be presented to the Board of Directors to vote upon at its next general business meeting on Monday, May 1. Once approved Tomyn could take almost immediately for outgoing Executive Director Dr. Roger Dearing, who announced his retirement last summer.
THEY SAID IT
“Mr. Tomyn’s energy and passion shined through and we are elated about this selection. It was a tight decision, but the right decision was made. Today was proof the process works.” — FHSAA Board of Directors President Mark Marsala
“As a former student-athlete, coach and principal within the FHSAA, I am thrilled to take on this new challenge. I am humbled to be part of the FHSAA’s rich history and look forward to working with the FHSAA’s Board and staff to ensure a smooth transition into this exciting new role.” — FHSAA Executive Director-Elect George Tomyn
EDITOR’S NOTE: Quotes were used from an FHSAA press release as all candidates were asked to leave the FHSAA premises after their interview.