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FHSAA sets rules for electing commissioner

With just four days remaining before the May 1 application deadline, the process for selecting a new commissioner for the Florida High School Activities Association was completed Monday.

The FHSAA Board of Directors approved a measure that outlines how it will conduct its interviews and the procedure to use if a member of the board seeks office.

"We had a real productive meeting (Sunday) and I think we really defined what we're looking for," FHSAA board president Richard Misenti said.

Under the direction of its consultant, the board specifically defined what it is looking for in a commissioner, including prior experience working with a board and a working knowledge of organized athletics. Any board member wishing to apply for the job will be removed from the process, even if he isn't among the finalists.

The search committee meets in Gainesville May 16 to narrow its pool of finalists to no fewer than three. By June 1, each board member must submit detailed questions to ask the candidate and a minimum of two acceptable responses to the consultant, who will then organize the questions and set a response rating scale.

The board also set a minimum salary of $90,000, which is negotiable based on experience.

"We have about eight applicants and if everyone submits resumes that have contacted me, I expect to have about 10 or 12," Misenti said.

He declined to divulge who has applied until after the May 1 deadline. A replacement for Commissioner Ron Davis, who resigned in January effective next January, is expected to be selected by July 1.

Also Monday, the board approved implementation of six-man tackle football for member schools that do not field an 11-man team, beginning with the 1999-2000 season.

Under the plan recommended by board member Bill Keith, schools that choose to participate will be allowed to play for two years without a state championship series. The teams could play bowl games if desired.

During that time, the board will assess the financial obligations required to sanction the sport, decide game rules, and which classifications of schools will participate.

Keith, of Gainesville Countryside Christian, conducted a survey of Class A member schools to determine if enough of them would be interested in fielding a team. Eighty-four of the 133 Class A schools responded to the survey and 36 were interested in the plan.

Those included Tampa Bay area schools Admiral Farragut, Keswick Christian, Temple Heights Christian and Seven Rivers.

Texas, Nebraska, Montana and several other western states currently have successful six-man programs.

"I'd love to see this happen, but this way it gives everybody a year to know about it and to get ready," said William Ward, principal of Orange Park High School.

Under the approved plan, any school could participate in either six-man or 11-man football _ but not both.

In other actions, the board:

Approved a motion to allow its staff to negotiate a contract with Universal Sports America Marketing to develop corporate sponsorships for the FHSAA, including a weekly television magazine show, a championship radio network and print promotions. Dallas-based USA Marketing currently markets for the NCAA and the Big 12, WAC, SEC and MEAC conferences.

Approved a request to have staff negotiate extensions to its contract with the Lakeland Civic Center for the girls and boys basketball tournaments and wrestling tournament. The Civic Center has contributed more than $2-million to the FHSAA since it began hosting tournaments in 1977.

Approved a written reprimand for several schools whose coaches, athletes and/or fans were involved in verbal abuse of officials at the state wrestling tournament in Lakeland.

The board instructed commissioner Davis to write letters of reprimand to any school that Don Bridges, director of athletics for Polk County, said was involved.

"I was there one night and it was atrocious," FHSAA Deputy Commissioner Ron Allan said.