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Chat session

By JOHN C. COTEY and DAVID MURPHY
Published October 26, 2006


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It has taken close to a year for the FHSAA and state legislature to figure out how to handle the perceived recruiting problem in the state. It took Times staff writers John Cotey and David Murphy about five minutes.

DMurph003: It seems to me you have two choices: either restricting all transfers or full-blown high school free agency.

JohnCotey: You can't stop recruiting. You can only hope to contain it.

JohnCotey: How about school choice? What's wrong with that?

DMurph003: That's the thing, 29 states have a transfer law like the one the FHSAA wanted to institute, but most of those states don't have school choice.

DMurph003: Most people I've talked to don't have a problem with a kid transferring because of sports.

JohnCotey: They shouldn't.

DMurph003: The question: How do you crack down on the people who are recruiting?

JohnCotey: Punishing the program. No postseason. What they do now. But here's something that bothers me: Coaches blame the transfers too much and sometimes need to look in the mirror.

DMurph003: Why don't we, I don't know, penalize the people who are doing the recruiting! I know it's a novel concept, actually forcing the people to take some responsibility, but it makes sense to me. (For the record, the FHSAA isn't allowed to suspend or fine individual coaches for their actions outside of actual games.)

JohnCotey: Of course it's much easier to just throw a blanket over the kids. But it's not fair. The kid who transfers because he hates his coach or hates his teammates or has a bad coach gets punished the same way the kid who is actually recruited does. And all the middle-aged white dudes in Gainesville can have more time for putting together those state programs. If you had a 15-year-old son with a rocket arm, you know darn well the programs you would NOT send him to.

DMurph003: First, of all, if I had a 15-year-old son, I would be in a world of trouble. But I understand your point. Here's the problem: It's so hard for the organization to investigate the claims. These guys' jobs aren't to chase high school kids around the state. They need to organize tournaments and set up sponsorships and update the Web site and produce handbooks and attend meetings and institute rules and employ officials. The problem has never been with the rules, it has been with the FHSAA's ability to enforce them.

DMurph003: At the same time, we can't have some KGB-style secret FHSAA police hiding in kids' closets at night and picking through their trash. I don't think anybody wants to start his car and look in his rearview mirror and see FHSAA commissioner John Stewart sitting there with a gun saying, "I'm going to ask you this once, kid: Were you recruited?"

DMurph003: It's easy to say, "Well, let's just let the FHSAA hire two more people and give them more money to work with to properly investigate recruiting." But this is Florida. If teachers got paid any lower, they'd be pumping gas to pay rent and teaching algebra to pick up extra spending money and not the other way around.

JohnCotey: Hey, 99 percent of the public doesn't care about this. The 1 percent is made up of coaches. Is recruiting and transferring the end of the world? No. Bust the ones you can, and keep trying. There's bigger problems to fry in prepland than this one.

DMurph003: John, I think we actually agree on something.

JohnCotey: But that's for another time.

DMurph003: Alright man, I gotta go book a flight for the Cruise-Holmes wedding.

JohnCotey: Say hi to Leah Remini for me.

[Last modified October 26, 2006, 06:58:10]


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