The decision goes against recommendations from the organization's Sports Medicine Advisory Committee.
After weeks of local coaches and athletics directors asking the Florida High School Athletic Association to make a decision on fall sports, they got their answer.
It amounted to, "It's up to you."
The FHSAA Board of Directors approved a motion Monday to keep July 27 as the start date for all fall sports. FHSAA executive director George Tomyn was in favor of sticking with the current plan, arguing that it already gives schools plenty of flexibility in regards to staring later if they're not comfortable doing so on July 27.
Tomyn also said the FHSAA would work with teams in regards to scheduling if they indeed do not want to start on time, thus missing or having to reschedule contests.
The board did vote to make the end date of the season more flexible for those that cannot start on time, allowing schools to opt out of state postseason competition and instead play regular-season games through the same date the playoffs will take place.
The 16-member board met for nearly five hours Monday night before coming to a 10-5 decision. The passing motion was made by Wewahitchka High football coach and athletics director Bobby Johns. It comes after multiple states, including Georgia, decided to delay some or all of their fall sports.
The approved plan goes directly against a recommendation of the FHSAA's Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, which recommended football and girls volleyball be postponed until further notice, while giving benchmarks — like a less than 5% positivity rate for Florida COVID-19 tests over a rolling 28-day period — that should be hit before the sports returned. The recommendation said the FHSAA should check those benchmarks every two to three weeks. The move was recommended by SMAC with a 10-0 vote.
After Johns' motion was approved, board president Lauren Otero, the athletic director at Plant High, attempted to pass a different SMAC recommendation, one that would require the FHSAA to create a COVID-19 questionnaire for coaches and athletes to fill out, pertaining to any symptoms they may be feeling. The recommendation also asked all schools to create screening procedures for their athletes, using a contactless thermometer. This was also recommended by SMAC with a 10-0 vote.
The board voted against the recommendation 12-4. Some board members who voted against the motion expressed concern that they did not have time to digest the SMAC recommendations, which were distributed earlier in the day. The board concluded the meeting by saying it will poll board members on when they are able to meet again — either Thursday, Friday or July 27 — to discuss the SMAC recommendations, other than the one postponing football and volleyball, in more detail.
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