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Oklahoma lawmaker questions athletics broadcasting contracts

January 20, 2016 / Athletic Administration
An Oklahoma lawmaker says he plans to challenge the legality of agreements between the state’s athletic association and networks that broadcast high school games.

OSSAAIn a news release sent Wednesday, Rep. Bobby Cleveland was critical of the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association (OSSAA) and the revenue it receives through two broadcasting agreements. Cleveland said the OSSAA receives at least $50,000 per year from Fox Sports Southwest to broadcast playoff and championship events, while another contract through the National Federation of State High School Associations generates an average of $55,500 per year.

He said the issue is that none of the revenue is shared with schools, which are struggling financially.

From the news release:

Cleveland said the contracts may very well violate state law, but that his primary concern with both contracts is that they are structured in a way that local schools will likely never see any of the revenue. OSSAA Executive Director Ed Sheakley admitted that there is no “revenue split” provision in the Fox Southwest contract. In addition, the federation contract is structured so that local schools will only receive a portion of net revenue from the online subscription services and associated advertising that is generated.

“In these down revenue times, I think we can all agree on the importance of revenue sharing with schools and clearly adhering to purchasing best practices and state law,” said Cleveland. “The fact is, the OSSAA is able to generate this contract revenue at the expense of our schools, and they should be sharing some of that money with those schools.”

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has labeled the OSSAA a ‘quasi-state agency,” which would prohibit the organization from entering into any contract that extends beyond the current fiscal year according to state statute, said Cleveland.

During the upcoming legislative session, Cleveland plans to introduce a bill that would “subject the organization to increased legislative oversight.” He also plans to request an opinion from the attorney general on the legality of the OSSAA’s multi-year agreements. 

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