Virginia legislature seeks to change VHSL voting structure

January 25, 2016 / Athletic Administration
A Virginia legislator is pushing a bill that would change the voting structure within the state’s athletic association.

VHSLAs it stands, Virginia High School League (VHSL) members each get one vote for major decisions like reclassification and regulation of prep sports. Delegate Glenn Davis last week introduced legislation that would change the policy, granting more votes to schools with higher enrollment. Davis believes the proposal proportionately gives greater representation to the state’s larger institutions.

From The Washington Post:

House Bill No. 965 asserts that no public school should remain a member of any organization that classifies schools based on student enrollment — as the VHSL does — unless that organization “apportions voting rights to member schools based on the same formula.” The VHSL, a private, non-profit organization overseeing all the public school sports teams in the state, currently provides each of its 316 member schools with one vote in membership meetings, regardless of student body size or athlete participation numbers.

Davis proposed similar legislation last January, only to see HB1415 killed by the Education Committee before it could get to the floor of the General Assembly. The bill’s demise didn’t surprise Davis, who pointed out that legislation often takes two or three go-arounds to get passed by legislators pouring over some 2,000 bills during the General Assembly’s 45-day regular session. This year’s session extends to 60 days, as it falls on an even-numbered calendar year.

Davis believes a more straightforward approach gives his bill a better chance of passing this time around. Last year’s iteration focused on the way VHSL dues are paid, stipulating that schools paying more in annual dues should receive more votes during state-wide legislative matters. The concept seemed simple enough, but it failed to address a complicated due-paying formula that fluctuates year-to-year based on changing enrollment and participation numbers.

Most state’s allow one vote per school, but the article notes that Maryland already uses a structure similar to what Virginia is considering.

Some schools are against the proposal, and others are against the notion that the legislature would get involved in anything that should be handled by the state athletic association.

“I’m not a fan of the state legislature being involved in the Virginia High School League,” one athletic director told The Washington Post. “While I don’t disagree with the intent of what they’re talking about, the method isn’t something I’m a huge fan of.”

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