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Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association to pay $1,200 fine

The Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association agreed to pay $1,200 in civil penalties and to stop giving legislators, state officials and state employees free playoff passes.
by Nolan Clay Modified: May 9, 2014 at 9:49 pm •  Published: May 9, 2014

The association that oversees high school athletics in Oklahoma has agreed to stop providing free playoff passes to state legislators.

It also has agreed to pay $1,200 in civil penalties to the state for not disclosing the gifts to the Oklahoma Ethics Commission the last three years.

The Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association was not trying to influence legislators or legislation, its executive director said.

“OSSAA provided playoff passes to any legislator who requested them each school year so that they could be better informed about our activities,” the executive director, Ed Sheakley, said in a news release Friday

The OSSAA is taking the steps to settle an Ethics Commission investigation into its failure to disclose the ticket giveaways.

Ethics commissioners voted 5-0 on Friday to approve the settlement agreement.

Commissioners voted March 14 to investigate the association amid alleged violations of lobbying disclosure rules.

Commissioners acted after The Oklahoman reported March 9 that the OSSAA has provided free football and basketball playoff tickets to legislators for years.

The OSSAA never reported those gifts to the Ethics Commission even though it was required to disclose the gifts once it started using lobbyists.

In the settlement agreement, the Ethics Commission called the failure nonwillful.

The OSSAA first hired lobbyists early in 2011.

The association oversees extracurricular activities for nearly every public school in Oklahoma for grades seven through 12. It makes decisions on the makeup of athletic districts, playoffs and student transfers and eligibility.

The investigation came at the same time the association has been under fire both at the Capitol and in the courts. Critics say it has acted arrogantly, arbitrarily and capriciously in enforcing its rules.

The association continues to blame its two previous lobbyists for the disclosure failure. Sheakley said he asked the lobbyists in 2011 to check with the Ethics Commission to see “if there was a problem continuing with this practice.”

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by Nolan Clay
Sr. Reporter
Nolan Clay was born in Oklahoma and has worked as a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1985. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and witnessed bomber Tim McVeigh's execution. His investigative reports have brought down public officials,...
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