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FHSAA board holds off on making changes to classifications

Creekside receiver Jack Goodrich, center, makes a catch and run in the first quarter during a Week 10 game at Ponte Vedra. (Ralph D. Priddy) (News4Jax)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Florida High School Athletic Association is pushing back a decision on reclassifying schools for another two weeks as it looks for the best way to navigate the effects of the pandemic on enrollment numbers across the state.

The FHSAA board voted on Monday morning to reconvene March 8 and vote then on what classifications should look like for the 2021-22 school year.

So, what exactly does that mean for schools?

For coaches and athletic directors, it’s another pause in getting a jump on scheduling. In a traditional year in Florida, reclassification is done on odd years every two years and based on student enrollment numbers. The last reclassification was done in 2019.

But the pandemic has made trying to project enrollment an exercise in futility, especially in the private school sector. Non-traditional schooling is up during the pandemic. More students are learning at home now than ever before.

The thoughts are to pause a reclassification for a year, or go ahead and proceed with the normal cycle.

For fall team sports like football and volleyball, programs know where they’ll be placed at for the upcoming two years no later than mid-December. That helps out with scheduling, especially in football where games are most always done in a home-and-home block.

For fall sports teams especially, a delay of another couple weeks means that scheduling in sports is still on hold until early March at the very earliest. Will there be districts in 2021 for a sport like football, or will districts be eliminated like they were last year?

Enrollment numbers during the pandemic have caused some concern among districts in the state, and board members wanted to cover ground with constituents over the next two weeks before deciding on which way to vote.

“Keep in mind the one sport that is the most affected by this decision would be football. Because it is basically the one sport that normally does two-year contracts for home and home,” said Wewahitchka athletic director and football coach Bobby Johns.

“Don’t let football deter us if we believe waiting is the right decision. If we don’t think it’s the right decision that’s fine. But if we do think a one-year pause is the right decision don’t let football deter us. But one caution I would say is the longer we go the more difficult it becomes on a football coaches.”

Another action item on the agenda, changing how the state semifinals are matched up in football, was tabled until April on a 14-2 vote. In the past, Region 1 and 2 faced off in one semifinal and Region 3 and 4 faced off in another.

The proposal to reseed state semifinalists by RPI points would pit the team with the highest RPI against the team with the lowest, and the Nos. 2 and 3 highest RPI teams against one another. That would be a truer method of having the top teams meet in the championship.

The FHSAA voted to retain the old playoff format for spring sports, allowing the district champion and runner-up to qualify for the postseason. In recent years, the FHSAA had a

The FHSAA also revealed that net income for fall sports fell significantly last year. The association said it received $385,862 from fall sports in 2020 and projected a loss of between $600,000-$700,000 in revenue. Roughly 80% of that lost income results from losses in football. By comparison, the FHSAA had no less than $1,029,613 in any of the previous four fall seasons.


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