Lee Schools changing the game when it comes to recruiting

CREATED Jan. 30, 2014

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FORT MYERS, Fla. -

Parents, do you have big dreams for your kids sports career? So big you're willing to move them to a different school that you think has a better sports program? Well, that freedom is about to end. Four In Your Corner's Dave Culbreth talked to the new Lee County superintendent of schools Thursday who is about to change some of the rules of the game.

The reason is real....college ain't cheap. So, if a parent thinks their kid's got a chance to get a college scholarship, whether it be football, baseball, band or badmiton, many parents will break the rules to get their kid in the high school with the best program.

"We've got coaches and principals out loud saying 'I know that child transferred for sports'," says Dr. Nancy Graham, the superintendent of the Lee County School District. That's against Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) policy and
Dr. Graham says the district is going to be scrutinizing this more closely. "This is on every body's radar," she said.

As it is now, a student-athlete in the Lee County School District can transfer to a new school every year. "If kids decide they don't like the coach, or kids decide they don't like a teacher, the way our plan is set up they can move," explained Dr. Graham. However, that's only to a school within the specific Lee County School District's zone they live in. Students can not transfer to a school outside the zone unless they actually move to a new address. "We're going to have to get better at making people commit to why they're transferring," said Dr. Graham.

But when people lie about their address the question becomes, 'Can they prove someone transferred for sports?' "Absolutely," Dr. Graham quickly answered. "If you can prove that someone doesn't live where they say they live or if you can prove that a child was offered the moon if they came to this school." A school can be punished. It can be stripped of a championship title and hit with six figure fines but no person at a school has ever been punished by the FHSAA. "They've got all kinds of sanctions," Graham added. When asked whether the FHSAA can sanction principals she said, "That's my role and responsibility and I will tell you that the principals are very clear that the expectations are that the rules will be followed."

That said, she says she's tired of hearing about it and wants people to start turning in the cheaters. "Nobody is doing anything except talking about it," Dr. Graham added. "No one wants to give us anything concrete and then that causes division among the schools and we can't afford to have that." 

Dr. Graham also pointed out that this problem is not unique to Lee County, or to Florida for that matter. For example, in 2010 a high school in Miramar, which is near Ft. Lauderdale, had all it's sports programs suspended for five years and was fined $260,000.

What do you think about Lee County's decision to crack down on recruiting? Sound off when you call (239) 206-FOX4. Or send us an email to; news@FOX4now.com.