The Florida Times-Union | by Clayton Freeman | March 8, 2021
High school teams across Florida will need to prepare for a new set of opponents for the next year.
The Florida High School Athletic Association’s board of directors voted Monday to move ahead with its scheduled reclassification for one year only, citing the logistical complications of the coronavirus pandemic.
Rather than a two-year cycle, however, the next reclassification cycle will apply to only the 2020-21 school year.
The FHSAA will use the enrollment numbers as of October 2020 to determine those classifications, which remain to be announced.
The board unanimously approved the motion, introduced by Lee County School Board member Chris Patricca.
Earlier, there had been some suggestion that the FHSAA might defer reclassification entirely for a year, because of questions surrounding the new enrollment figures. That approach would have kept schools for the 2021 football season in the same classification as the two previous years.
The FHSAA is now set for an additional reclassification next fall, likely for 2022-23 and 2023-24, which could move Florida onto the same even-number reclassification cycle as Georgia.
The vote moves Florida athletic directors one step closer to a resolution in a reclassification process that has dragged on for months amid uncertain numbers in an ever-shifting educational landscape that has been upended by COVID-19.
In past years, the FHSAA has often announced classifications at a much earlier stage. During the 2019-21 cycle, for example, schools learned their district assignments in December 2018.
The FHSAA had originally planned its decision for Feb. 22, but elected instead to schedule Monday’s special meeting to weigh more specific details and to receive feedback from members.
Board members viewed the proposal as a compromise between retaining the existing classifications and committing to the October 2020 numbers for two years.
For many board members, the key word of the day was flexibility.
Mark Schusterman, athletic director of Riviera Prep in South Florida, said that because of the number of unknowns facing Florida education, the one-year reclassification was the wisest option.
“It makes it a more effective situation for next year,” Schusterman said.
Still to be determined, however, are the effects on scheduling in high school football, where two-year contracts are standard.
The one-year classification cycle will affect locations affected by the opening of new schools.
Nease girls basketball coach Sherri Anthony cited the uncertainty facing the school based on the projected loss of more than 1,000 students to the new Tocoi Creek High School, set to open next fall.
“We’re hoping that can be a consideration across the board,” Anthony said.
Photo: Mandarin hosted Ed White in a high school football game in October. The Florida High School Athletic Association voted Monday to move forward with reclassification, but the new classes will remain in effect for only the 2021-22 school year. Will Dickey, Florida Times-Union