By JOHN SCHWARB
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 17, 2001
Under state rules, an athlete ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct is ineligible to compete for the next seven days.
If the Pinellas County School Board has its way, he or she also might have to stop at the bank. Tuesday, the board explored a revision to its athletic policies that would force students to pay $50 for conduct-related ejections and require students and coaches to pay for any fines handed down to schools by the Florida High School Activities Association.
"Participating in extracurricular activities is a privilege," said superintendent Howard Hinesley. "I think it will be a deterrent."
County athletic director Bob Hosack said schools were warned at the beginning of the school year that these policies would be put into place and several players have voluntarily paid fines for unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.
"Why should schools pay for fines for kids' conduct?" Hosack said. "We should not use taxpayers' dollars to pay for these.
"You've got to make the effort to get this curbed."
Coaches also might be penalized by the county for violations. Coaches who are suspended from games by the FHSAA will lose one day of supplemental pay for each game missed.
"I don't know if a monetary value can be put on it," Clearwater baseball coach Steve McKee said. "But we all want our athletes to behave accordingly, and a fine is justified if it will bring some responsibility to a person's actions."
The new policy will be detailed on eligibility forms that must be reviewed by parents and players before each season. With a signature, they would agree to the fines. But one coach said she wondered if in reality, a player would have to put up his or her own money for indiscretions.
"Will the $50 really come from that kid?" Northeast girls basketball coach Erin Gwyn said. "You won't know who's paying it; if it's coming from the booster club or somewhere else.
"But it might give (the player) a second thought, especially if it's documented and the kid's going for a scholarship. Schools at the next level might look at that."
If put into effect after a public hearing Feb. 13, Pinellas' guidelines would mirror those of Hillsborough County, which instituted student fines at the beginning of the year.
Since then, Hillsborough athletic director Vernon Korhn said unsportsmanlike conduct violations "seem to have gone down" in football and soccer.
- Times Staff Writer Kelly Ryan contributed to this report.