Florida high school athletes will face an expanded drug policy and have more leeway to transfer schools under proposals approved Tuesday by the Florida High School Athletic Association’s representative assembly.
“FHSAA continually looks for ways to improve the safety of our student-athletes and ensure that they compete on a level playing field,” FHSAA executive director Roger Dearing said in a statement. “Performance-enhancing drugs and unscrupulous recruiting are two of the biggest threats we’ve had to deal with in recent years, and these bylaw changes will go a long way to addressing those challenges.”
The first notable change deals with athletes who transfer to a school where they have a pre-existing relationship with the coach.
Players who follow a coach to a new school will be ineligible for varsity competition in that sport for a year. But they will now be able to compete on that sport’s JV team and play other sports at the new school.
The old regulations wouldn’t allow players to participate in any sport if they followed a coach to a new school as a deterrent to recruiting.
The assembly also broadened the FHSAA’s drug policy. The previous bylaw outlawed only performance-enhancing drugs, but the new one includes human growth hormone, steroids and schedule-3 narcotics, which include pain pills like hydrocodone.
Use of those drugs without medical documentation will be deemed unsportsmanlike conduct, and violators will be ruled ineligible.
That change comes five months after the Miami Herald reported that at least two high school baseball players were alleged clients of Biogenesis, the south Florida anti-aging clinic whose customers included Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun. In August, Dearing charged an FHSAA committee with reviewing its policy and asked districts to do the same to see if they can find donors to sponsor random drug tests.
The FHSAA also added a new layer of mediation for eligibility issues. The new step will go between sectional appeals and final appeals to the FHSAA’s board of directors.
All bylaws go into effect on July 1.
You can read the FHSAA's new bylaws here.