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New high school athletic association off the table

Sen. Stephen Wise, R-Jacksonville, backed off of an idea to create a separate athletics association for private schools and charter schools.

His bill, SB 1704, would have allowed private and charter schools to become members of the Sunshine Independent Athletic Association. Under current law, the only organization that can oversee high school sports is the Florida High School Athletic Association.

Wise said he filed the bill to break up the FHSAA's monopoly.

But opponents said the bill would encourage recruiting -- and make charter and private schools a more attractive choice to student athletes.

The FHSAA and coaches from across the state fought back the measure, saying they had no desire for a separate association. They demanded all schools play by the same rules.

When the bill reached the Senate Floor on Wednesday, Wise dropped the language about the Sunshine Independent Athletic Association. The revamped bill makes it easier for student athletes to transfer to new schools, and places new restrictions on the FHSAA investigations into recruiting.

The bill looks like its House companion, HB 1403, which passed the House 78-34 earlier this month.