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FHSAA voters wonder if reclassification was hasty

It's now two days later, but even an hour after the Florida High School Activities Association (FHSAA) voted to impose just one classification system for all sports, directors were sensing the fallout.

"I have no problem with the change," said Ronald Davis, commissioner of the FHSAA. "I just think we needed to put more thought into these things."

"Everybody just went along with the vote and I don't think people stopped to think of its consequences. I really don't know the total effect now," said Pinellas County athletic director Bob Hosack, adding to a familiar refrain from members of the Board of Directors.

Charles Griffen, principal of Greensboro High near Tallahassee, proposed the policy of Classes A through 5A for all sports based on recommendations from his constituents. A few minutes later, without discussion, the board passed the idea.

Davis said he had heard it was going to happen and was not surprised, yet didn't attempt to slow the proceedings. "I'm not going to try to talk it down because I'm in favor of more classifications," he said. "It allows for more championships and showcases the kids but still, the fact is we're left with a lot of inequity between classifications."

Class 2A, with enrollment from 219 to 439 students, will have 56 schools, which is sure to make a 16-district format difficult to schedule (that's 3.5 schools per district).

Meantime, while many 5A schools expressed gratitude at the likelihood of dropping down and out of Sarasota Riverview's sight, St. Petersburg Catholic seems to be fearing the impending move up to 2A.

"We're over the limit (for 1A) by 10 kids," said head basketball coach David Jackson. "Now we have to go up against schools with 200 more than us. Well, I hope that John Wayne and Jack the Ripper are among those extra 10, or else we're really going to have our hands full."

No one, including FHSAA members, is sure where the schools will fall when they determine the districts in December.

According to FHSAA spokesman Jack Watford, not every sport will automatically have five classifications. Only the sports that the majority of schools play _ namely football, basketball and baseball _ will be able to sustain five. The FHSAA will have to determine later what to do with sports like tennis (which has four categories), and soccer and wrestling (which have three).

Besides the reclassification bombshell and a new, tougher policy on recruiting, the FHSAA passed other noteworthy items:

Starting with this upcoming basketball season, schools can participate in a tournament that will be played one week prior to the beginning of the season. Entitled the Tip-Off Classic, varsity teams can play non-district competition and boost their schedules with two more games. The FHSAA said the main purpose is to raise revenues for the schools and to bolster the FHSAA building fund for construction of a new office site.

The tournaments can be scheduled on Nov. 12-14 for girls and boys teams without football squads, Nov. 23-25 for boys teams with football players.

The same inaugural tournament situations will take place in baseball and football. The Diamond Classic is slated for the week of April 19-23 for softball and April 26-30 for baseball.

Also in baseball, metal spikes will be allowed and the season will begin two weeks later than it did in 1992.

In the 1993 season, football will have a Kick-Off Classic, in which schools can participate instead of playing in a jamboree. The Classic also is one week before and in addition to the 10-game regular season schedule. The home team will receive 40 percent of gate receipts, the visiting team 35, and the FHSAA 25.