Two state representatives have requested an interim study to investigate some of the practices and procedures used by the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association.
State Rep. Bobby Cleveland, R-Slaughterville, and Rep. Marty Quinn, R-Claremore, announced their plans in a press conference Monday morning at the State Capitol.
Along with Cleveland and Quinn, former Oklahoma football coach Barry Switzer appeared in support of the group's desire for transparency from the OSSAA, as well as his personal desire to see the so-called “Tebow bill” to come to Oklahoma.
The Tebow bill, which has gained popularity around the country, allows homeschooled students to participate in extracurricular activities at the public school of the district in which they reside.
The legislation is nicknamed for NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, who was homeschooled in Florida but played football for a public school based on the law, which was adopted by the state in 1996, a few years before Tebow reached high school.
The Tebow bill recently passed through the Texas senate and is now headed for the house of representatives, where it could become a state law.
Switzer spoke briefly about his support for Cleveland's and Quinn's examination of the OSSAA's practices before going into detail about his desire to bring the Tebow bill to Oklahoma. With seven homeschooled grandchildren, Switzer has a personal passion for the legislation.
Parents of athletes from Norman North and Sequoyah-Tahlequah high schools appeared at the news conference to share their personal stories about their displeasure with rulings made by the OSSAA in recent months.
Cleveland has asked that the study be assigned to the house government modernization committee, which specializes to enact openness and transparency laws.
“This is something that naturally found a home in the government modernization venue, where we look at transparency of government process,” said the committee's chairman, Rep. Jason Murphey, R-Guthrie. “Historically, one of those areas where transparency has been very challenging has been pseudo-government entities, where government entities are mostly responsible for the funding and where that entity has a great role in regulating what is, in fact, a public entity activity — in this case, sports — but the open meetings and open records law do not necessarily pertain.”
Cleveland has also requested Governor Mary Fallin and Attorney General Scott Pruitt to review the matter.
OSSAA executive director Ed Sheakley pointed out that the OSSAA executes the rules voted on by its member schools, which join the association on a volunteer basis. The OSSAA cannot create or change rules without the schools voting on, and approving them, first.
“We're a volunteer organization, and our membership makes up our rules,” Sheakley said. “There are ways to change things through the democratic process we have. Any time you're a rule-enforcing organization, when members break rules and you have to impose sanctions, people will be unhappy.
“If our membership doesn't like the rules, they have a process to change them.”