The discussion was brief on Wednesday, but it might have been one of the more important decisions the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association board of directors made.
Athletes are now allowed aid by their school to attend individual camps, changing a rule that triggered a chain of events for the OSSAA in the Supreme Court and House of Representatives.
The board voted 12-0 to approve the changes to board policy IX-G-5, allowing schools to provide transportation in a school-owned vehicle and pay for the fuel to camps in Oklahoma or a bordering state.
“With some of these camps, they’re in the middle of the week,” OSSAA executive director Ed Sheakley said. “Parents can’t usually take off work to drive their kid to wherever it might be. The membership was saying that some of it is our coaches are going there anyway, so why can’t two or three kids pile in?”
The rule originally stated: “Neither the school, nor any booster club or organization associated with the school, may pay fees and/or expenses, including transportation, for students to attend an individual camp or clinic.”
In 2012, the OSSAA ruled originally that 12 Sequoyah-Tahlequah players were ruled ineligible for participating in individual camps paid for by the school. The school also had to forfeit nine football games, taking away a district championship, among other sanctions.
In October, the Oklahoma Supreme Court slammed the OSSAA regarding the case, calling the organization’s actions arbitrary and capricious. That provided fuel for the state legislators to conduct an interim study and ultimately propose several bills regarding the OSSAA, one of which successfully passed through the Senate last week.
So, Wednesday’s rule change was no ordinary rule change. It had been discussed for months among the member schools.
And it took less than 90 seconds of discussion Wednesday to make the move.
“Our camp policy, we expanded it and got more detailed on it because people weren’t sure what they could do and couldn’t do,” Sheakley said.