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High school athletics bill dies on last day of session

Among the high-profile bills that died when session came to a close Friday: a proposal that would have revamped the Florida High School Athletic Association and eased the rules on student transfers.

Proponents made a last-minute move to get the bill moving in the Senate. But it never got a hearing on the upper chamber floor.

It was a victory for FHSAA Executive Director Roger Dearing, who stood to lose his job if the bill became law. Dearing argued that the proposal would have opened the door for high-school free agency and turned schools into "recruiting-frenzied sports giants."

"It is gratifying that Florida’s 260,000 high school student-athletes will be spared some of the negative consequences of this legislation," Dearing said in a statement issued late Friday. "We understand that many of the legislators who supported the proposal were doing what they thought was best for high school athletics, but it would have opened the door for a few adults and athletes to build powerhouses while those who respected the rules of fair play were left behind."

He added: "The session-long discussion about the FHSAA has raised some genuine concerns, and we welcome the opportunity to collaborate with students, parents, coaches, administrators and legislators to ensure that all high school athletes are able to continue competing on a level playing field. Florida’s high school athletes deserve the opportunity to play under a statewide uniform set of fair rules, and the FHSAA is proud to remain the keeper of that sacred tradition for our state."