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Florida transfer law could prove huge if schools districts don’t play in fall

Published: Jul. 24, 2020 at 4:52 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 24, 2020 at 5:13 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - More than three years have passed since the Florida state legislature passed a bill that allowed high school students to transfer at will and without penalty.

With Thursday’s decision from the Florida High School Athletic Association to postpone fall sports, with a target return date of August 24, the law could become a big factor if some school districts play fall sports while others choose to say a return is not safe yet.

“I think it’s a joke,” Chiles High School head football coach Kevin Pettis said.

Florida has one of the most robust high school transfer laws in the nation; it allows students to transfer to any school, even during the year, and be immediately eligible to compete.

“It’s really not where kids can go where ever they want to go,” Pettis said. “They can go where their county says they can go.”

Pettis argues the law has a major flaw: Students can only transfer to a school if there is room.

“If a kid leaves in my county, and his parents are not happy with the school system or what they are trying to get out of the school for sports, I oblige you to go to other places, where ever you get what you can get what you need to get,” Gadsen County head football coach Corey Fuller said.

Another issue of the 132-page bill is some coaches believe this allows unhappy kids at a school to leave at will, instead of trying to working through the problem.

“Players are developing in a program and maybe will switch schools or change up what they are doing because of playing time or because of something not going right at that moment,” Godby head coach Brandon McCray said.

One reason the law was created was to cut down on recruiting, which is still prohibited by the FHSAA. But, the law makes it more difficult to prove that violation.

“If a kid goes to a school and is happy,” Pettis said, “You can’t prove anything.”

Some coaches say, though, that athletes should keep in mind how transferring to multiple schools throughout their high school careers will make them look to a potential college.

“[Alabama head coach Nick] Saban sat there and talked to the whole group,” Pettis said. “He said if there’s a kid that’s been to two or three high schools, I don’t want him.”

In the wake of the FHSAA’s decision, fall sports across the state can only continue summer conditioning if their district allows.

Copyright 2020 WCTV. All rights reserved.

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