The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

September 22, 2013

Interim legislative study to determine whether OSSAA needs to be more transparent

ENID, Okla. — Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association is getting some publicity organization leaders probably are wishing wasn’t aimed their way.

OSSAA, the private, nonprofit organization that oversees extracurricular activities for thousands of Oklahoma students, is the subject of an interim legislative study requested by Rep. Bobby Cleveland, R-Slaughterville.

Cleveland called for the study because he thinks OSSAA needs to be more transparent with its finances and may need more oversight.

He would like to see OSSAA subject to regular state audits and be held subject to the state’s open meeting and open records laws.

Members of the House Administrative Rules Committee had a hearing last week and plan more meetings over the next month.

“It is our intent to answer serious, significant questions that have arisen,” Cleveland said.

At last week’s hearing, lawmakers heard complaints from parents who were upset about OSSAA’s decisions on transfer requests and from football coaches concerned about the way revenue is shared from high school football playoff games.

Lawmakers also heard from the athletic director at Bishop McGuinness High School, a private Catholic school in Oklahoma City, who complained about the rules governing private schools.

OSSAA oversees extracurricular activities for nearly every public school in Oklahoma for grades seven through 12, including the makeup of athletic districts, playoffs, student transfers and eligibility.

It is governed by a 14-member board of mostly school principals and superintendents and had an annual operating budget last year of $5.4 million.

Much of the association’s revenue comes from gate receipts for high school playoff games, which generated more than $4.5 million last year, according to the agency’s financial statements.

After expenditures associated with the playoffs, the association reported netting about $1.8 million.

OSSAA gets a lot of grief over its policies and how it enforces them. Critics say there is no consistency.

The spotlight is on OSSAA. We’re sure the glare is not wanted.

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