First and foremost we're a Christian school and the first thing we tell them is when they come here their slate is clean," said Florida Christian Institute President and Athletic Director Keith Leonardo.
The school draws students from many school districts that Leonardo feels might not have made it through those educational systems.
"I don't think any of the three who are in college and on a team would be in college - let alone playing sports.Last year we had 13 grads, ten went on to college.This year we have 22 grads and we hope most of them will get to college.That's our focus," said Leonardo
The recent problems have arisen from the relative strength of the Eagle football program.As an FHSAA affiliate member, the Eagles are permitted to have players who are beyond their fourth year of high school or even students who may not have 2.0 grade point averages.Leonardo was advised by the state to take an affiliate status so the students who attend Florida Christian Institute could still participate in sports.
rules didn't fit with what we do as a school - we know that.We directly asked, 'These are the rules we play by.Can we play full member schools?' The answer was, 'If they want to play you, they can,'" said Leonardo
Affiliate schools are still required to ensure players are younger than 19 years and 9 months old.Athletes must also be actively enrolled and attending school - just like full member schools.
State rules say affiliate schools must sit players down who do not meet the differing eligibility requirements when they play member schools.However, Leonardo
received a reconfirmation that member schools can waive that rule which would allow those players to play.