Mike and Amy Gronigan didn’t necessarily know what to expect Wednesday morning at the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association’s first Intermediate Appeals Panel meeting.
They walked away the only victorious family when their son Andrew was narrowly granted his athletic eligibility at Edmond North, but they were also impressed with how well the panel worked.
“I appreciated having the eye contact, and I felt like they were engaged in the conversation and listening to what we had to say and taking what we had to say into consideration,” Amy said.
The OSSAA started the five-member panel to add another layer to the appeals process and give students more of an opportunity to gain eligibility, but it also brought a more comfortable setting along with it.
At OSSAA board meetings, appeals are presented at a podium to a 14-member board and the OSSAA staff. Now, the appeals are presented and discussed at the same table as the panel as a way to help people feel at ease.
It’s a positive change many took notice of Wednesday.
“I thought the tension was a lot less,” OSSAA executive director Ed Sheakley said. “It was a lot friendlier and a lot more user friendly with this relaxed smaller number.
“We know sometimes on how intimidating it is when you’re speaking to a panel or people you’ve never met before. We want people to feel at ease, we want them to feel comfortable, we want them just to sit down, relax, sit across the table from one another and ask questions.”
The panel is comprised of panel chairman and Alva superintendent Steve Parkhurst, Oklahoma City Schools district administrator Charles Carpenter, Verdigris athletic director Gary Kennemer, Burns Flat-Dill City superintendent Ron Hughes and Talihina superintendent Jason Lockhart.
None of them shied from asking questions of the group appealing or OSSAA staff members to clarify the rules.
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