Five things that triggered scrutiny of the OSSAA

The Oklahoma House of Representatives is prepared to propose legislation regarding the group that oversees high school sports. Here's how it got to that point.
by Jacob Unruh Published: October 8, 2013
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Last week's vow by the Oklahoma House of Representatives to propose legislation regarding the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association wasn't just the result of the three-day legislative hearing.

Instead, it's also the result of a series of events that helped shape the case against the OSSAA.

The outcome of each started largely in favor of the OSSAA, but during the past few months things have started to change for the organization.

Here is a look at five of the events that impacted the OSSAA and opened up the organization to legislation.

TUCKER BROWN, 2005

Brown, a Shawnee junior in 2005, was suspended for two games after being ejected for kicking a Tulsa Washington player near the end of a playoff game, ruling him ineligible for the Wolves' semifinal game. Believing the rule to be unclear, Brown's family received an injunction to allow him to play, but the game was postponed for three weeks until the Oklahoma Supreme Court made a ruling.

The court ruled in favor of the OSSAA, saying “Absent fraudulent, collusive, unreasonable, arbitrary, or capricious behavior, this court may not overturn a voluntary association's enforcement of its rules.”

The case caught national attention, but may have been the first sign of trouble brewing with the OSSAA regarding the court system.

Shawnee coach Billy Brown said at the time about the OSSAA, “They are untouchable. They answer to no one. The message sent by the OSSAA is that they can do what they want to do.”

DANNY RENNELS, 2009

The OSSAA's then-executive secretary, Danny Rennels, was fired for misappropriation of funds after spending nearly 10 years with the organization.

He later pleaded guilty and paid back $421,500. He was also placed on probation for five years, handed 175 hours of community service and was forced to follow special conditions “for gambling addicted persons.”

Current executive director Ed Sheakley eventually replaced Rennels, and actions were taken by the board of directors to avoid such an issue in the future.

However, some of the legislative hearing the past month centered on this incident and the lack of transparency by the organization regarding its finances.

Rep. Gus Blackwell, R-Laverne, spoke last week about how that area needs to be addressed.

“I think the other thing is they have got to become transparent, open,” he said following last week's study. “They have to follow normal procedures that everyone else follows.

“I think that we are stewards of the schools' money. How they want to spend it, it's still the schools' money.”

GUTHRIE, 2011

The OSSAA ruled that Guthrie played an ineligible player after it was determined that Clint Simek and his family had dual residency in both Guthrie and Prague, forcing the top-ranked team to forfeit eight games and miss the playoffs.

After an appeal, the board of directors reversed the forfeits, suspended coach Rafe Watkins for eight games and forced Guthrie to surrender gate profits from the playoffs. Simek remained ineligible, and the football program was placed on warning for one year.

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by Jacob Unruh
Reporter
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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