The Hillsborough County School Board is making it a lot more difficult for a student-athlete to switch high schools to play for another sports team.
Following the scandal earlier this year surrounding the Armwood High School football team, the Hillsborough County School Board on Sept. 11 formally adopted a new participation policy for student-athletes who transfer to another school.
Armwood is the Greater Brandon area's perennial powerhouse — but not immune to following the rules. The Florida High School Athletic Association in June held the program accountable for using ineligible players and then stripped the team of its 2011 Class 6A state championship. The Hawks' 2010 state runner-up status was negated as well.
According to a Forbes sports & leisure report, the school had to "send back the trophies associated with those appearances" and the FHSAA "also fine the school $12,743, and made it forfeit 26 wins."
Under the new policy, students won’t be eligible to play sports for a year after the transfer.
The new policy is aimed at preventing students from transferring so they can play for a specific sports team.
In May, the Florida High School Athletic Association determined that Armwood football players had faked their addresses so they could play for the championship team.
Under the new policy, players will need to provide two items to prove their residency including a driver’s license, voter registration card, lease agreement, homestead exemption or deed, said Steve Ayers, the school district’s director of community and parent relations.
However, Ayers said the school district has made the new residency requirements as painless as possible for parents and students. After parents complained that the new forms were too cumbersome, Ayers told board members the form has been simplified.
Requests for transfers will be reviewed by a volunteer Transferring Student-Athletes Participation Committee that will determine within 30 days if the request is legitimate. If a request is denied, the student can appeal to the school board. School board member April Griffin said she will put together an appeal procedure for the board to follow.
The new policy is already having an impact on high school team sports.
Last week, just as Armwood’s junior varsity team was boarding the bus for a game against Tampa Bay Tech, 20 players were ruled ineligible by Principal Mike Ippolito because they had not submitted the required proof of residency.