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FHSAA tightens transfer rules on varsity athletes

One key decision and one non-decision came out of the Florida High School Activities Association Board of Directors meeting Friday.

The decision: Varsity athletes who do not change their residence but transfer to another school must sit out of competition for one year.

The non-decision: A motion to split the FHSAA into public-school and private-school competition was tabled and will likely be brought up again at the board's next meeting in August.

The rule on transferring is intended to reduce schools' recruiting of athletes from other schools. The rule also prevents any athlete who transfers to another school during the sports season (without changing residence) from playing that season.

Some FHSAA officials hoped the new rule would calm the talk of splitting the public and private schools because it would cut down recruiting.

But board member Tim Starling, superintendent of schools in Baker County in north Florida, said recruiting is only one problem.

"Private schools have selective enrollment," Starling said. "When it comes to deciding a state champion, it's not fair to have to run a fast-break uphill. It is not a level playing field."

Starling and principals from small public schools said it was not fair that their schools are restricted by zones while private schools have open enrollment and (sometimes) financial scholarships.

A recent survey revealed that 64 percent of Florida's principals favored splitting private schools from public.

Several board members said they were not comfortable making such an important decision without more time to gather information, and postponed the vote.

Other new rules and decisions made Friday include:

A move to six classes next year, A to 6A. Class A schools will be those not playing football (now called Class B). In all sports but basketball, A and 2A schools will play together.

Preseason "classics" will be allowed in wrestling and volleyball, as long as a portion of the proceeds goes to the FHSAA. Football, basketball, softball and baseball had classics this year. A motion also was approved to stop counting the basketball classic games in win-loss records.

Cross country will be divided into five classes instead of four. And girls invitational races can be 3 miles long if approved by the commissioner.

The FHSAA said it is running short of money (because of legal fees and a court judgment against it) and will raise its membership fees 150 to 200 percent (up to $1,000) and increase playoff ticket prices (from $3 to $4 for district tournaments).

The organization also moved its August meeting from its Gainesville headquarters to the Grenelefe Golf and Tennis Resort near Haines City. Despite some objections about the appearance of the move, FHSAA officials said lodging costs would be the same.

If a team pulls out of a district it was assigned to in any sport, the school will be penalized and not allowed to play in the district in every sport. The rule is the result of Northeast, Seminole and Countryside withdrawing from their football district with Manatee, Sarasota and Sarasota Riverview.

Track: Ridgewood High's girls team scored an impressive early-season victory when it won the Osceola Relays Saturday. The Rams won won four relay events and edged Tampa Chamberlain 86-84.

Ridgewood won the shuttle-hurdle, 2-mile, 880 and distance-medley relays.

The Ridgewood boys also were impressive, placing second with 49 points to Hillsborough (69). Ridgewood did not win any events but had several seconds and thirds to account for the excellent finish.

The Springstead boys won a North Suncoast-flavored, seven-team invitational in Spring Hill Friday. The Eagles finished with 114 points, including a victory in the 440 relay.

Hernando, winner of the mile relay, was second with 76 points; Lecanto (40), Gulf (33), Hudson (28), and Central and River Ridge (23) followed.

Baseball: Zephyrhills defeated Springstead 10-0 in five innings Friday to win the Sunshine Athletic Conference preseason tournament.

Pitcher Shawn Daugherty went the distance to go to 2-0, and Robbie Hayward homered and doubled for the Bulldogs (5-0). Springstead dropped to 3-2.

Soccer: Several area players were named to all-state teams last week.

Land O'Lakes' Jaime Parr, who scored 41 goals this season and helped the Gators win district and region titles, was named to the Class 3A girls team.

Springstead, which won a district title, landed three girls on the 4A all-state team _ forward Jen Bernhardt, midfielder Jenny O'Sullivan and Alyson Casiano, who was an honorable-mention selection.

Gulf's B.J. Cipher, a top midfielder, was named to the Class 4A boys team.

_ Staff writer Jim Carson contributed to this report.