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High schools: Legislators want government to oversee eligibility and financial sides of OSSAA

State representative Gus Blackwell plans to propose legislation to make eligibility rules easier to understand and to oversee finances.
by Jacob Unruh Published: October 3, 2013

Legislators vowed Thursday to propose legislation that will put government oversight over the eligibility and financial sides of the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association.

Two days after a Supreme Court ruling said it will give tougher judicial scrutiny for its actions, the House of Representatives finished their three-day legislative hearing of the state's high school sports governing body.

Rep. Gus Blackwell, R-Laverne, said he plans to propose legislation to make the eligibility rules easier to understand and to oversee the finances.

“I don't think we need to pay $2-5 million a year for an organization that basically draws up a bracket and determines who is eligible,” he said. “They have 31 other activities that they take care of besides sports, and there's never a problem in there. This seems to be the one that they have all sorts of problems with.”

OSSAA executive director Ed Sheakley is open to change within the organization, but wants the change to come from the vote of the members.

Change, though, appears be coming from the outside.

On Thursday, Sheakley spent a little more than two hours defending the organization.

Much of the hearing's focus centered on the financial transparency within the OSSAA.

And it also centered on Tuesday's ruling from the Oklahoma Supreme Court that called the OSSAA's actions against the Sequoyah-Tahlequah football team arbitrary and capricious.

Last year, the OSSAA forced Sequoyah-Tahlequah to forfeit nine games and miss the playoffs after the school was ruled to improperly pay for students to attend camps. The court found the association repeatedly acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner in interpreting and enforcing its rules.

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by Jacob Unruh
Jacob Unruh is a graduate of Northeastern State University. He was born in Cherokee and raised near Vera where he attended Caney Valley High School.During his tenure at NSU, Unruh wrote for The Northeastern (NSU's student newspaper), the...
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