GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Florida High School Athletic Association’s Board of Directors met virtually through Zoom on Monday as the association keeps to protocols surrounding COVID-19.
The biggest topics of issues for the meeting included the biggest topic that has been mentioned and asked about on social media – the pending biennial reclassification.
In normal years, the reclassification process, which occurs on odd years per FHSAA’s Policy 12, would have already been started in process with the release of football classifications following the football season in December. However, that did not happen due to the nature of the season being delayed.
Now, with more information, there were concerns from FHSAA membership regarding enrollment numbers that were taken in the counts that are submitted in October. As such, Justin Harrison, FHSAA Associate Executive Director of Athletic Services, said that staff has reviewed enrollment numbers going back to 2019 and 2018 to see where increases and drops have occurred in enrollment.
In those findings, Harrison did mention that there were more schools than traditionally that experienced a significant drop in enrollment than traditionally while the number of schools that saw a significant increase in enrollment stayed the same.
However, with a proposal on the table to pause reclassification for a one-year basis hanging in the balance, a lot of discussions was brought up by the board with the concerns of enrollment numbers at various schools, especially private schools that have been hit hard with parents withdrawing kids due to financial considerations that have been growing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Another part of the discussion included the thought of that if the one-year pause happened, it would allow the next reclassification cycle to come in alignment with the reclassification cycles with neighboring states of Alabama and Georgia that reclassify their sports on even years.
In the end, it came down to a 10-6 vote to table the reclassification agenda item which will be discussed in a special virtual meeting on Monday, March 8 at 9:00 AM Eastern where a decision on with a pause on reclassification will happen or if the process to reclassify schools will happen for the 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years will take place.
FOOTBALL STATE SEMIFINAL RESEEDING PLAN ON HOLD
A plan that has been in the works for two years to have the final four teams remaining in each classifications’ playoff bracket be reseeded prior to the state semifinal games got unexpectedly tabled today after having received unanimous support from the Operations Committee as well as receiving supporting votes from both the Football Advisory Committee and the Athletic Directors Advisory Committee.
The issue raised at hand was regarding if this is plan is done for football, will other sports want this, raising Title IX concerns. As such, the item to approve the plan was tabled until the April meeting of the Board of Directors with the understanding of asking other team sports about this plan regarding reseeding and travel costs for those sports that do not have a final four format like some sports have currently.
FLAG FOOTBALL COULD SEE ALL TEAMS MAKE DISTRICT TOURNAMENT FOR 2021
The Board of Directors approved waiving the minimum game requirements for Flag Football for the 2021 season which also applies to the rest of the spring sports as they have done so for fall and winter sports. The minimum game requirements usually recommend how many games a team has to play in order to qualify for the FHSAA State Series in that sport.
However, another item packaged into this was allowing Flag Football, Boys and Girls Lacrosse, and Boys Girls Water Polo to allow all teams to make their district tournaments for the 2021 season instead of the top four teams. The hope is this would allow all teams to participate regardless of the number of games played with the ongoing issues surrounding COVID-19.