JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Florida High School Athletic Association will postpone all events until further notice it announced on Wednesday night and added a bit of clarity to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ announcement a day earlier that parents could have their children repeat a grade due to school closures.
“The FHSAA has made the decision to postpone all scheduled FHSAA meetings, conferences, and athletic events until further notice,” it said in a statement that comes a day after DeSantis announced that all state schools would be closed through April 15 in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Pending schools are back in session and afforded the opportunity to resume activities after April 15th, by Federal, State and Local authorities, the FHSAA will follow the recommendations and guidance available to us at that time regarding the continuance of all FHSAA spring sports and other planned meetings and conferences.”
The eligibility interpretation will likely be put to the test in some capacity should athletes repeat a grade and hope to maintain the ability to still play high school sports.
The FHSAA deferred to its bylaw 9.5.1 about eligibility. That bylaw states: “A student is limited to eight consecutive semesters of eligibility beginning with the semester he/she begins ninth grade for the first time. This does not imply that the student has eight semesters of participation. After eight consecutive semesters, the student is permanently ineligible.”
Any changes to 9.5.1, according to the FHSAA, “would need to be addressed by the FHSAA Representative Assembly.”
There could be a bit of gray area to that when all is said and done.
In 2005, the FHSAA granted hardship eligibility to students in neighboring states who moved to Florida after being displaced due to Hurricane Katrina. The situation now is different, but there has been flexibility in the past in significant situations. The FHSAA did something similar in 2010 following an influx of students from Haiti who were displaced by earthquakes.
Spring sports have been the ones affected by the pandemic, so sports such as football, soccer, volleyball and basketball aren’t among the ones that have seen their seasons derailed.
The April 15 date puts the remainder of the high school spring sports season in jeopardy.
That best-case scenario for a return would come during the week that lacrosse, tennis and track and field district tournaments were scheduled to start. At best, a significantly modified and perhaps extended season could be something that schools or the FHSAA takes a look at under a best-case scenario.