FHSAA’s waffling puts schools’ sports schedules in dilemma

The Florida High School Athletic Association was supposed to vote on Friday to possibly rescind its earlier action to reduce the number of games in each varsity sport except football, by 20 percent.

It didn’t.

The directors were concerned after recent threats of legal action from a gender equity group claiming the plan violated Title IX, which guarantees boys and girls the same athletic opportunities.

Now, it cannot be brought up again until the next board meeting in September, putting school districts who have acted on the ruling in a dilemma.

“We have already scheduled fall and winter sports, based on the FHSAA decision,” said Paul Ruby, Lely High athletic director.

“We could be screwed up as some good dates have already been put in use. Also, Lee County schools now in our district only play us once. Now we will have to get them on schedule for another game each (at least in basketball).”

East Lee, Lehigh and Cypress Lake are now in Lely’s district.

FHSAA Executive Director Roger Dearing said in a press release that the board tabled the action as it tries to avoid litigation.

Nancy Hogshead-Makar, a professor at Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville and expert in athletic gender equity, threatened a lawsuit against the FHSAA on behalf of the group Florida’s Parents for Athletic Equity.

After meeting with Dearing, following the board meeting, Hogshead-Makar’s group agreed not to file a suit for 10 days while other options are explored.

“We’re going to talk about all the ways to solve the gender equity issues,” Hogshead-Makar said. “Any cuts have to be done in a gender equitable fashion. If (the FHSAA) can solve those issues, there is not any need to sue.”

She wasn’t sure what the possible solutions could be. Her group’s complaint is that more girls are affected by the cut in games because football schedules will not be reduced.

One plan mentioned, she said, is to allow enough girls sports to keep their number of games so that amount of girl athletes is equal to boys playing football.

Adam Fisher, Naples Daily News sports writer, contributed to this story.

© 2009 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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