, Muskogee, OK

December 7, 2012

Legislators want OSSAA money records

Pair curious after denial of schools wanting out

Phoenix staff, wire reports

— While the issue of splitting Class 6A in football was primary on the agenda in Wednesday’s Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association board meeting, two schools are looking for a way out.

And two state legislators who on Thursday announced intentions to ask the state’s governing body for high school athletics to open its financial records and explain its denial of two Oklahoma City schools, Capitol Hill and U.S. Grant, to become independent of the association.

The request of the two schools was denied by a vote of 8-5. The board also rejected a proposal to create Class 7A football by splitting 6A into two 16-team classes, submitted it back to committee.

Rep. Richard Morrissette (D-OKC) and Rep. Bobby Cleveland (R- Slaughterville) released a statement detailing concerns about the association’s financial transparency.

“An organization such as the OSSAA that dramatically impacts the lives of our student-athletes must be both transparent and accountable. Public scrutiny is essential.” Morrissette said.

The release stated that Cleveland requested and was denied a financial report from the OSSAA on Wednesday during its board meeting. The OSSAA denied withholding its financial records.

“OSSAA has not received, and therefore has not refused, any request for any financial records from these state legislators,” said the statement from OSSAA executive director Ed Sheakley. “(On Wednesday) during the course of the scheduled public meeting of OSSAA’s Board of Directors, a man asked an OSSAA staff member for a copy of the minutes of the proceedings. As the meeting was still ongoing, no minutes of the meeting had yet been prepared.

“The man did not identify himself to OSSAA’s staff member, nor say why he wanted to obtain a copy of minutes for that meeting.”

The legislators also are seeking an explanation for the OSSAA board of directors voting against U.S. Grant and Capitol Hill football teams’ request for independence at Wednesday’s meeting. The OSSAA press release explained that U.S. Grant and Capitol Hill were not asking to drop out of participation.

“Contrary to what is indicated in the press release from Representatives Morrissette and Cleveland, these high schools did not ask ‘to depart from the organization,’” the statement said, adding that the schools were instead asking for an exception to the OSSAA rule that prevents a school from becoming independent from the association in an individual sport.

Grant, which is 27th in average daily membership of the 32 schools in Class 6A, has had 16 one- or no-win seasons in the last 24 years. Capitol Hill, which has the 43rd highest ADM in the state, hasn’t won more than two games in a year since 1992.