Stewart in his final year at FHSAA
Published: Wednesday, January 23, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 22, 2008 at 10:46 p.m.
John Stewart's four-year tenure as the FHSAA's executive director (formerly commissioner) will come to an end on Nov. 1.
Then, Stewart said he and his family will spend a lot of time in a home in the Georgia mountains and he will get to enjoy his grandchildren.
During his time in office Stewart has been known as tough, but fair towards schools who have broken rules and added he is always under the assumption any infractions are unintentional, unless proven otherwise.
He said his mantras have been "sportsmanship" and "leveling the playing field as much as possible."
When asked if he believes recruiting violations have been curtailed, he said that between compliance review and the punishments handed out, he thinks so.
"We have noticed that they're paying attention," Stewart said.
Stewart also will be remembered as the first executive director to oversee steroid testing for Florida high school athletes.
Since testing began during football season, Stewart said there has been one positive test and that athlete chose to serve his mandatory 90-day suspension from athletic competition and complete the required drug education course (which he took at West Palm Beach's Hanley Center).
Stewart said each test is taken with an A and a B sample and sent to UCLA's lab (which also oversees testing for the United States Olympic Committee), and added all tests are reviewable for appeal. A second failure results in a banishment from FHSAA competition.
However, one area where the FHSAA testing differs from many professional leagues is that an athlete reinstated after submitting a negative result at the end of a 90-day suspension is treated no differently than anyone else.
"They wouldn't be subject to any further disqualification unless they are chosen randomly again (and fail)," Stewart said. "We would hope that would have taught them a lesson that first time."
Stewart's successor will be named on April 8, and will begin employment on July 1 as the executive director designate. During the four months following, Stewart will serve as a mentor.
His best advice...
"Have a lot of patience," Stewart said. "Don't invest emotion in a lot of the things that happen. Stay away from the emotional part of it and look at the facts of things as opposed to the emotional of it."
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