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Davis' dream job becomes a reality

By the looks of things, Ronald Davis got the equation just right. With an eye on the state's top job, Davis kept his mind on a few bottom-line figures.

"Somewhere around the early 1980s, I realized that's a job I'd like to have," said Davis, the Florida High School Activities Association commissioner-designate. "I did some math in 1980, when (executive secretary) Floyd Lay resigned and Fred Rozelle took over, and I thought, "You know, that just might fit.' And now I've reached that goal."

Always open about his ambitions to succeed the outgoing FHSAA commissioner, Davis officially gets his wish July 31, when Rozelle retires after 11 years on the job. The promotion culminates Davis' steady climb up the FHSAA leadership ladder, one that began when he was elected to the board of directors in 1977.

In becoming only the third FHSAA commissioner in the past 29 years, Davis said the appeal of the job is the reach it affords.

"I think it's probably the most important job in high school athletics, in the state certainly, and it's one of the most prestigious in the country," he said. "A lot of states look to Florida to see what we're doing before they try something. It may be a lofty idea, but I feel maybe I have something to offer the kids in this state."

Following Rozelle's well-received reign isn't the most enviable task to fall to Davis, and the 54-year-old former Crestview High principal doesn't plan to mess very much with success.

"Style-wise, I would think we're very similar in nature," Davis said. "I think I would be a little bit more of a detail person. Fred sees the broad picture more. I try to see that, but I also, and I may find this is hard to do, like to keep my finger on things maybe a little bit closer than he has."

Changing a perception that has followed the FHSAA since Lay's administration is another of Davis' goals.

"When you think of the FHSAA, you're not thinking of individuals, you're thinking of the NCAA, you're thinking of the police, the tough cop," he said. "And we are a regulatory agency to a great degree.

"But we need to change our image from one of a bunch of gods sitting up here in Gainesville telling everybody what to do. Then if you don't walk the straight and narrow, they come down real hard on your head with a heavy hammer.

"That's not an accurate perception, but that's the perception in some areas. We need to be a place that anyone can go to for answers."