The mission of the Florida Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association is to develop, enhance and preserve the educational values of interscholastic athletics. The FIAAA serves its members by providing resources to develop and enhance leadership skills, developing mentorship programs for new athletic administrators and offering numerous opportunities for professional growth. In conjunction with the Florida High School Athletic Association, the FIAAA promotes the spirit of sportsmanship and fair play in all athletic contests and works to safeguard the physical, mental, social, and moral welfare of all high school students.
FIAAA – A Brief History
In the 1970’s, a new direction in athletics was being explored-due to the increasing number of sports offered at the high school level. Many of the larger schools began separating the athletic director position and coaching duties. Prior to 1974 the athletic directors from Florida were very loosely organized as part of the Florida Athletic Coaches Association (FACA) and were afforded an opportunity to meet together while attending the FACA Football Coaches Clinic.
In December of 1974, several Dade County athletic directors, including Paul Tripp (Hialeah High), Wayne Taylor (Miami Palmetto High) and Wayne Story (Miami Springs High), attended the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) National Conference for Athletic Directors in Hershey, Pennsylvania. It was while attending this conference that Wayne Taylor, Miami Palmetto Senior High Athletic Director, had the opportunity to meet with Tom Fredericks from NFHS. In their discussions the possibility of Florida athletic directors organizing was addressed. The following January, a group of athletic directors, led by Paul Tripp, met with the leadership of the Florida Athletic Coaches Association (FACA) and asked if they could have more of a role in the planning of the clinic as to meet the needs of athletic directors.
The athletic directors of Dade, Broward and Hillsborough counties took this new idea back to their county athletic directors for approval and at the NFHS National Conference for Athletic Directors in St. Louis, Missouri in December of 1975 discussions regarding how other state associations organized ensued. During all of 1976, many meetings were held regarding Florida’s efforts to organize the state’s athletic directors. One such meeting was held between Wayne Taylor, Chuck Holland, East Bay High School Athletic Director, and Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) Commissioner Floyd Lay asking for the support of the FHSAA in this organizing effort. Not only was support given but also financial resources from the FHSAA were promised.
Subsequently, in January of 1977 at the FACA Football Clinic, Paul Tripp, chairman of the athletic directors group proposed that the athletic directors form the Florida Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (FIAAA). This was overwhelmingly approved and the Dade County athletic directors took the task of writing the by-laws, using patterns obtained from other states. In December of 1978 After the by-laws were written and printed the group selected Ward Burgess, Athletic Director, Hialeah Miami Lakes High School, as the president; Dr. Clarence Noe, Broward County Athletic Director, as the past president; John Morgan, The Bolles School, Athletic Director, as the secretary; Tom Stoll, Athletic Director, St Stephens Episcopal School, as the treasurer and president-elect Chuck Holland, Athletic Director, Hillsborough High School.
According to the by-laws the first FIAAA state conference, was hosted by the president-elect Chuck Holland at the Holiday Inn-Stadium, Tampa. Speakers were FSU football coach Bobby Bowden and Mr. Floyd Lay, (FHSAA.)
The FIAAA hosted the NFHS National Conference of High School Directors of Athletics for the first time in December of 1983 with Past Presidents Chuck Holland and Wayne Taylor serving as Host Chairmen. The FIAAA hosted the national conference again in 1991, 1996, 2001 and 2005.
FIAAA Past President Dr. Clarence Noe was the first FIAAA member to serve on the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) Board of Directors and served as president of the NIAAA in 1983. Past President Wayne Taylor served as NIAAA President in 1989. Past President Ron Balazs has also served on the NIAAA Board of Directors.
FIAAA Past President Ward Burgess was the first FIAAA member to receive national recognition when he was presented with a NIAAA Distinguished Service Award in 1979. FIAAA Past President Wayne Taylor was the first FIAAA member to receive the NFHS Citation in 1980. Fifteen other FIAAA members have been recognized with NIAAA Distinguished Service Awards or NFHS Citations.
In 1988 six FIAAA members were amongst the first to receive the designation of “Certified Athletic Administrator” (CAA). They are: Michelle Berry, Paul McLaughlin, Clarence Noe, Wayne Story, Wayne Taylor, and Russica Tighe. In 2001 FIAAA member Robert Piero earned the first “Registered Athletic Administrator” (RAA) designation and in 2002 FIAAA member Michael Colby earned the first “Certified Master Athletic Administrator” (CMAA) designation.
The FHSAA has always been very supportive of the FIAAA and in 1996 discussions ensued for the two organizations to become more closely associated and for the FHSAA to take a more active role with the FIAAA. Subsequently, the FIAAA is included in many of the committees that have been created in the re-organization of the FHSAA. Additionally, the FHSAA began collecting membership dues of behalf of the FIAAA from all FHSAA member school and in 2001 the FIAAA Board of Directors voted to make FIAAA membership a school membership and thus the dues paid covers all athletic administrators associated with the school.
In 1989 the FIAAA began awarding scholarships to deserving high school scholar athletes in honor of the late Mandy Marie Stoll daughter of FIAAA Past President Tom Stoll. Mandy was tragically taken from us in April of 1988. In May of 1989, four $500.00 scholarships were presented at the annual state conference which was later increased to six scholarships and at the May 2004 conference the number of recipients of Mandy Stoll Scholarships was doubled with twelve $500.00 scholarships being awarded to deserving graduating scholar athletes.
During the 2000-2001 Administrative Year, the FIAAA began an ambitious Professional Development campaign as it joined forces with the NIAAA by appointing a State Leadership Training Program (LTP) Coordinator to oversee the program. Michael Colby, CMAA was appointed as the first State LTP Coordinator in May of 2000. In May of 2001 the first Leadership Training Course (LTC) was presented at the 23rd Annual Conference in Ft. Lauderdale. In May of 2002 Andy Chiles, CAA was appointed as a second State LTP Coordinator. In May of 2006 the FIAAA appointed its first State Certification Program Coordinator when Dan Comeau, CMAA, a member of the NIAAA Certification Committee, was appointed to oversee this program.
In May of 2003 the FIAAA passed a milestone as it celebrated its Silver Anniversary Conference in Orlando under the direction of then President-Elect Trish Highland, CAA, County Athletic Director of Orange County Schools. Additionally, in 2003 the FIAAA embarked on a three-prong corporate sponsorship program under the direction of Michael Stutzke, CMAA. The program defined three tiers of sponsorship with a $5000.00 Directors Partner level, a $2500.00 Presidents Partner level, and a $1500.00 Committee Partner level. Each level is to have 3 sponsors with a total possible three-year commitment of $27,000.00 cash and/or in-kind contributions each year for the organization. Additionally, in June 2003, FIAAA Past President Dave Horner (2001-02) was elected Vice President (President-Elect) of the FHSAA Board of Director. Dave served as Vice President during 2003-04 and 2004-05. He served as President of the FHSAA Board of Directors during 2005-06.
In May of 2005 the FIAAA appointed it first Executive Director naming FIAAA Past President Ron Balazs, CAA to that post.
In June of 2006 FIAAA Past President Wayne Taylor, CAA was inducted into the National High School Sports Hall of Fame.
In May 2007 the FIAAA Board of Directors authorized the creation of a special committee under the direction of Past President Tom Catanzarite, CAA to develop the FIAAA’s first Strategic Plan. This follows the development of the FIAAA’s Mission Statement which was developed by a special committee under the direction of Andy Chiles, CAA.
In May 2008 the FIAAA celebrated its 30th Anniversary and had twenty-one of its past presidents in attendance at the annual awards banquet.
In September 2009 the Board of Directors adopted its first Policies and Operating Procedures (POP) Manual as presented by a special committee of Past Presidents Tom Stoll, Ron Balazs, Nick Wright and Danny Ninestine along with Treasurer Mike Colby.
At the 2010 34th Annual NIAAA Conference, Dr. Clarence Noe, CAA, was inducted into the NIAAA Hall of Fame and again at 2012 36th Annual NIAAA Conference, Wayne Taylor, CAA, was inducted into the NIAAA Hall of Fame.
Also, in 2010 at the 34th Annual NIAAA Conference, host by Florida in Orlando, FIAAA Past President Andy Chiles, CMAA, was elected as the Region A, At-Large member to the NIAAA Board of Directors. Andy subsequently was elected as NIAAA President-Elect at the 37th Annual NIAAA Conference he was installed as the NIAAA President to serve during 2014. Andy is the third FIAAA member to serve as president of the NIAAA.
In 2014, the Board of Directors approved the creation of an FIAAA Hall of Fame. Under the direction of Committee Chairperson, Scott Drabczyk, the Hall of Fame Committee developed the guidelines and application form for the Hall of Fame. The inaugural class will be inducted at the 2016 FIAAA Annual State Conference in Orlando.
In December of 2015, Executive Director and Past President Ron Balazs was inducted into the NIAAA Hall of Fame at the 39th Annual NIAAA Conference hosted, once again, by Florida in Orlando.
May 1, 2016 saw the induction of the Inaugural Class of the FIAAA Hall of Fame. Seven founding fathers of the FIAAA became the first inductees in the Hall of Fame, six of which served as past presidents of the association. Those inducted are Ward Burgess, Chuck Holland, Clarence Noe, Tom Stoll, Wayne Story, Wayne Taylor and Paul Tripp. Twenty-seven family members joined the over 200 banquet attendees in honoring these first inductees.
In December of 2016 at the national conference in Nashville, Past President Lanness Robinson was elected as the Region A At-Large representative on the NIAAA Board of Directors.
At the May 2017 Annual State Conference, three FIAAA Past Presidents were inducted as the 2nd Class of the FIAAA Hall of Fame. They were Ron Balazs (1989-90), George Phelan (1993-94) and Trish Highland (2003-04).
In May of 2018, the FIAAA celebrated its 40th Annual State Conference and inducted the 3rd Class of the FIAAA Hall of Fame, with two long time Miami-Dade County athletic administrators, Past President Cheryl Golden (1999-2000) and Past Treasurer Mike Colby (1998-2018). The conference also saw the presentation of a newly named award, the “Wayne Taylor Distinguished Service Award”, named after the Past FIAAA President (1980-81) and Past NIAAA President (1989). This award replaces the FIAAA Meritorious Service Award. Additionally, in June 2018, FIAAA Past President (2008-09) was elected President-Elect of the FHSAA Board of Directors for 2017-18. He served as President of the FHSAA Board of Directors in 2018-19.
In December of 2018, Past President Lanness Robinson (2014-15) was elected NIAAA President-Elect at the 2018 Annual NIAAA Conference, making the 4th FIAAA member to achieve this honor.
At the January 2019 Board of Directors Meeting, the board selected Past FIAAA President (2008-09) and Past NIAAA President (2014), Andy Chiles, to be the next Executive Director of the FIAAA. Additionally, in June 2019, FIAAA Past President Lauren Otero (2018-19) was elected President-Elect of the FHSAA Board of Directors for 2019-20 and will serve as President during 2020-21.
At the 41st Annual FIAAA conference in May of 2019, the 4th Class of the FIAAA Hall of Fame was inducted. They are, FIAAA Past President Donna Blumer (1997-98), FIAAA Past President Vernon Korhn (1996-97) and longtime FIAAA Secretary and Historian, Jay Rader (1997-2013, 2013-2018).
In December 2019, Past President Lanness Robinson (2014-15), was installed as President of the NIAAA, as well as being awarded an NFHS Citation; the twelfth Florida recipient.
In December 2020, FIAAA Past President Russell Wambles (2012-13) was awarded with an NFHS Citation, which due to the canceled in person NIAAA Annual Conference will be presented at the 2021 NIAAA Annual Conference in Denver. Also, during the online Delegate Session of the 2020 NIAAA Annual Conference, FIAAA Past President Lauren Otero (2018-19) was elected NIAAA Secretary-Elect for the 2021 administrative year and will serve as NIAAA Secretary from 2022 through 2026.
At the 43rd Annual FIAAA Conference in May of 2021, the 5th Class of the FIAAA Hall of Fame was inducted. They are, FIAAA Past President Bill Massey (2007-08), FIAAA Past President E. Michael Stutzke (2006-07) and longtime FIAAA board member and Bay County AD, Tommy St. Amant.
In December 2021 at the NIAAA Annual Conference, Past President Scott Drabczyk (2017-18) was awarded an NIAAA Distinguished Service Award, making him the 12th FIAAA member to receive this award and Past President Lauren Otero (2018-19) was installed as NIAAA Secretary.