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Georgia lawmakers seek to change high school athletic oversight

A bill pre-filed in the Georgia legislature is seeking to give student athletes “due process” rights

A bill pre-filed in the Georgia legislature is seeking to give student athletes “due process” rights, which they do not have under the current rules of the Georgia High School Association.

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The GHSA is a private organization that governs athletics and activities for member high schools in Georgia. GHSA is a member of the National Federation of State High School Associations. The association has 463 public and private high schools as members.

“The GHSA has repeatedly failed our schools and student athletes, specifically our smaller schools. My office and the office of other senators have had a tremendous outreach from schools across the State expressing their concern with the GHSA,” Senator Jeff Mullis said.  “The GHSA’s unwillingness to listen to the concerns of the schools in question is extremely troubling and I believe they must be held accountable. This bill explores ways to improve the system for our schools and student athletes.”

SB BILL 328: to be entitled an Act to amend Chapter 2 of Title 20 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to elementary and secondary education, so as to provide for the designation of a nonprofit organization to govern high school athletics in this state; to provide for definitions; to provide for a governing structure; to provide requirements for a board of directors; to provide for a representative assembly; to provide for a public liaison advisory committee; to provide for due process and appeals; to provide for amendments to the bylaws; to provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

What’s in the 9 page bill? Everything.

The bill states that the State Board of Education shall designate a nonprofit organization to govern high 23 school athletics for public schools and the organization shall not be considered a state agency. Any nonpublic school that wishes to engage in high school athletic competition with a public high school in this state may become a member of such organization.

The organization shall adopt bylaws that establish eligibility requirements for all students who participate in high school athletic competition in its member schools. The bylaws governing student residence and transfer shall allow the student to be eligible to participate in high school athletic competition in the school in which he or she first enrolls each school year or makes himself or herself a candidate for an athletic team by engaging in a practice prior to enrolling in any member school. The student shall be and remain eligible in such school so long as he or she remains enrolled in such school. Subsequent eligibility shall be determined and enforced through the organization’s bylaws. Where the student lives,  with whom the student lives, or which school the student attended the previous year shall not be a factor in determining eligibility.

The governing structure of the organization shall be as follows:

Each member school, on its annual application for membership, shall name its official representative to the organization. Such representative shall be either the school principal or his or her designee. Such designee shall be either an assistant principal or an athletic director housed within that same school; and The organization’s membership shall be divided along local school system boundaries into six contiguous and compact administrative regions, each containing an equal or nearly equal number of member schools to ensure equitable representation on the organization’s board of directors, representative assembly, and committee on appeals.

The executive authority of the organization shall be vested in a board of directors. The board of directors shall be composed of 19 persons, as follows:
(1) Six public member school representatives, one from each of the six administrative regions who is elected from among its public school representative members;
(2) Six nonpublic member school representatives, one from each of the six administrative regions who is elected from among its nonpublic school representative members;
(3) Two representatives appointed by the State Board of Education, one from the three  easternmost administrative regions and one from the three westernmost administrative region

The bill is a non-partisan measure filed by Senators’ Jeff Mullis, Chuck Payne, Greg Dolezal, Mike Dugan, Butch Miller, Randy Robertson, Lee Anderson, Lindsey Tippins and Jason Anavitarte.

 

View the bill here: SB 328 

There has also been a petition started in support of the bill by Georgians for Equal Athletic Opportunity.

The petition reads: 

For far too long, the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) has had a stranglehold on the lives of student-athletes and their families. The GHSA is a private organization that has no government oversight – an unelected bureaucracy whose rules are unfair and wrong. We finally have an opportunity to bring fairness to Georgia high school athletics thanks to a non-partisan measure by our state legislature – Senate Bill 328

Right now, the GHSA is strong-arming high school athletic directors and coaches into opposing this legislation as they know it will significantly decrease their power. Remember, the GHSA can decide the fate of the athletic programs, the athletes, and the classifications of the very people they are trying to bully into submission. But, the real power lies with YOU.

It’s time to stand up in support of this legislation and fight back against the GHSA stranglehold that is killing sports programs in Georgia! 

Please sign this petition and contact your local legislator (Georgia Senator or House Representative) and tell them you support this bill, that you care about the lives of your children, grandchildren and families.

If this bill passes it will give student athletes “due process” rights, which they do not have under the current rules of the GHSA. It allows student-athletes to transfer schools as long as they are enrolled at the beginning of the year, without penalty (as long as no undue influence or recruiting is involved).

Give Georgia student athletes fair and equal athletic opportunity and sign the petition in support of SB 328.

 

 

1 Comment

1 Comment

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    Jim W.

    January 13, 2022 at 9:47 pm

    The GHSA may be a mess, but letting the government get involved at this level will be a TOTAL disaster. We don’t need to hear “I’m from the government and I’m here to help”.

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