The Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) has once again drawn the ire of a state government official for the lack of transparency and heavy-handed enforcement of its rules.
The organization, a quasi-private agency organized by member schools to regulate high school athletic programs, is under threat from State Sen. Chris Elliott (R-Daphne), who said he had concerns over how AHSAA has handled eligibility questions associated with the Spanish Fort High School boys and girls soccer programs.
Elliott took to social media to blast the AHSAA and said it was "past time for a permanent legislative resolution" to what he had deemed "seemingly annual miscarriages imposed" on student-athletes.
The Spanish Fort High School ruling is one of many high-profile situations allegedly mishandled by the AHSAA.
Recently, the high school athletics governing body forced Seventh-Day Adventists at Oakwood Academy to forfeit a 1A boys basketball playoff game so its players could observe the Sabbath despite a pledge from other schools involved in playoff games scheduled later to swap times.
The AHSAA's perceived inflexibility caught the attention of Gov. Kay Ivey, who also questioned the decision.
On Monday, Elliott appeared on Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5's "The Jeff Poor Show" to discuss what he indicated would be almost certain forthcoming legislation.
"[I]t's not any particular event or particular situation but rather an overwhelming lack of confidence in the Alabama High School Athletic Association," Elliott said. "We see it year after year after year with the eligibility issues and the manner in which and the timing in which they are handled. We have seen the legislature see bill after bill dealing with this. And that is because the legislature is the voice of these parents and these students. We're their representatives and they're pleading with us to do something about this situation and figure out how to get this organization to act differently.
"Now, I'm sure there are two sides, three sides or four sides to every story. And I'm not necessarily interested in getting into the specifics except maybe to illustrate where there may be some room for improvement of this organization. But the legislature is trying to do this year after year. I fully intend to file some legislation that will work on transparency, accountability for this. This organization in my mind receives public money, plays on public ballfields, charges admission for games played by public school students, sells ads for people to view public school students playing ball or sports of whatever kind and that seems an awful lot like public money to me, which means they're going to be accountable to folks."
The Baldwin County Republican lawmaker said he had heard from lawmakers from around the state that were willing to be co-sponsors of legislation, which he said could see action as soon as the 2023 regular session.
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