Utah advancing bill that would change state athletic association

March 2, 2017 / Athletic AdministrationCoaching
Utah’s legislature is moving a bill that would take some power away from the state’s athletic association and create more transparency from the organization.

The bill (HB 413) passed through the House Education committee on Wednesday, despite objections from the Utah High School Athletic Association (UHSAA). The bill would force the UHSAA to adhere to the state’s open meetings and records laws, and it would also establish a new panel responsible for hearing appeals from the organization’s 149 member schools. UHSAA officials have called the proposal an “overreach,” according to the Deseret News.

From the article:

Rep. Greg Hughes said complaints about the association and confusion about how decisions are made have been a long-standing issue. He said over the years he’s dealt with complaints from Delta, Juan Diego and most recently Summit Academy, a school whose board of directors he sits on, and the response has always been “a brick wall.”

He addressed the concern some have that Summit Academy was the impetus for the legislative action, as it was definitely the impetus for a state board rule that addressed some of these same issues, but also included a new transfer rule.

“There is such wide-spread confusion, you just have some transparency issues,” he said. “There are people who will attach bad motives to this, and I would regret that. We’ve had a great working relationship with this group, and it would be demeaning to those efforts. …We’re trying to make sure we’re doing right by these kids, schools and communities.”

This is the second time over the last three months that outside groups have tried to change how the UHSAA operates. In December, the State Board of Education passed new rules that eased restrictions on student-athlete transfers.

Click here to read more about the latest bill. 

State legislatures vs. athletic associations

Utah is the latest instance of state legislatures taking on their athletic associations, but it’s taking place throughout the country.

Arkansas lawmakers are considering similar legislation, and in Florida legislators for years have tried to take power away from their state athletic association. Louisiana in 2016 considered a bill that would have modified how the state runs its postseason tournaments.

Elected officials consistently argue that their state athletic associations have too much power and do not consistently or fairly apply their own rules, a point that’s strongly disputed by leaders in high school sports.

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