With many watching, OSSAA needs to look for ways to improve

The Oklahoman Editorial Published: October 3, 2013
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The OSSAA felt in each case that the rules were clear — if you exceed the games limit, there's a penalty; if a player is ejected from a game, there's a penalty, etc. — but one complaint about the association is that its rules are anything but clear. The attorney for the Sequoyah High School player who challenged the OSSAA called its policies in the case “convoluted and inconsistent.”

“You sit down to read them, it would take you days to figure out what you think they said,” he told The Oklahoman's Nolan Clay.

Similar complaints and others were aired recently by coaches, administrators and parents at a legislative hearing. Some accused the association of selectively enforcing its rules. Others questioned how revenues generated from playoff games are distributed. One coach who's been on the sidelines 40 years said the relationship between coaches and the OSSAA is “at an all-time low.”

Those hearings continue Thursday. The man directing them is state Rep. Bobby Cleveland, R-Slaughterville, who, among other things, wants greater transparency from the OSSAA and a better accounting of spending practices — its annual budget is about $5 million. Cleveland said Tuesday he isn't hopeful the OSSAA will “recognize that they have a problem and fix it.”

The organization has a difficult job, riding herd over nearly 500 member schools and activities ranging from football to speech. OSSAA staff deals each year with more than 1,000 requests for rule waivers, the results of which can leave parents and schools angry.

But the OSSAA and its board would do well to digest the Supreme Court's opinion, listen to what others are saying and then work to improve the organization. To be sure, many are watching to see if that happens.

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