Athletic Recruiting Beyond Athletics Recruiting Responsibility

Are You Ready for High School Free Agents?

football players dream of playing in college football bowl games

The state of Florida recently passed school choice legislation that has serious ramifications for student-athletes.

Buried in House Bill 7029 is a provision which essentially creates high school free agents.

If this bill gets signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott, student-athletes in Florida will be able to transfer in between seasons and play sports for another public school without having to sit out.

Don’t like your coach? Didn’t make the team? Time to transfer?

Not so fast, my friend. Like professional sports free agency, there will be certain limits on student-athletes. First of all, schools must have a vacancy for a potential transfer. Also, student-athletes are prohibited from transferring midseason after participating in official practices or games in that same sport.

The proposed bill includes penalties for recruiting violations for teachers and school contractors, ranging from a $5,000 fine to termination by the school.

There are however a few exceptions to the midseason transfer rules. Immediate eligibility is allowed for student-athletes with special circumstances, like foster children and military dependents, as well as students authorized by a school district or charter school for “good cause.”

Have more questions about what you should be doing in high school so you can play at the next level? We can help.

Recruiting limits and violations will not prevent high school free agents

You don’t have to be a lawyer to poke holes in Florida’s pending school choice legislations. “Good cause”? Come on, what does that even mean?

The lack of sports-specific details brings up more questions than answers. Do tryouts or captain’s practice count as official practices? Have these lawmakers ever played high school sports?

Football season is technically in the fall, but there are team activities all year round. What happens if a student-athlete lifts with the team in the spring, attends captain’s practice in the summer and then bails for another school prior to official practices because he’s buried on the depth chart?

This hypothetical student-athlete would seemingly be free to transfer and play immediately without any repercussions.

In addition to the vague legalize, it will be very difficult to monitor recruiting violations and enforce the penalties.

Escambia High School baseball coach and athletic director Roger Mayo told the Pensacola News Journal that coaches, parents and student-athletes will exploit these rules:

“It’s such a difficult thing to prove. A parent of a student-athlete would have to come forward and say, yes, he recruited my son or daughter, and most parents aren’t going to implicate their own child.”

So, if parents, student-athletes, school administrators are ok with high school free agency, what’s the big deal?

School choice legislation undermines the education of student-athletes

One-and-done college basketball players infamously take non-degree courses because they are not expected to stay long.

School choice legislation in Florida would cause many high school student-athletes to follow suit and focus on qualifying instead of graduating. Once 15-year-old freshmen in high school start taking remedial courses in order to explore their transfer options, the educational system has failed.

The lawmakers in Florida clearly did not flesh out the details of House Bill 7029, especially with regard to student-athletes. School choice legislation, which is designed to increase the educational opportunities of children, will do the exact opposite for kids who play sports.


We’re here to help you become the best student and athlete you can be. The best way to get started is with a recruiting profile.

Photo credit: (Flickr – Daniel Lewis)

About the author
Tom Johnson