* At first, a resolution sponsored by Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia seemed fairly straight forward. The Illinois Press Association and the Illinois Broadcasters Association asked the legislator to sponsor the measure to get some oversight hearings of the Illinois High School Association. From a press release…
“Citizens throughout Illinois have been calling for more transparency in government. With the General Assembly once again facing difficult budget decisions, its reasonable for the taxpayers of this state to know how the IHSA is spending the funds it is bringing in. I applaud the Illinois Press Association for bringing this to my attention,” [said Rep. Chapa LaVia].
Dennis DeRossett, executive director of the Illinois Press Association, said the following — “We thank Representative Chapa LaVia for introducing this resolution. The IHSA is presently subject to almost no accountability or oversight; they claim to be exempt from both the Freedom of Information Act and Open Meetings Act, and they argue that they alone should control any revenue that is ultimately derived from taxpayer-funded sporting events.”
He said the IHSA is clearly profiting directly off of public, taxpayer-funded events.
“It should be public knowledge how much revenue is being generated by these events and other exclusive arrangements, along with what percentage or amount of that revenue is being remitted back to local school districts,” DeRossett said. […]
“Kudos to LaVia,” echoed Dennis Lyle, President and CEO of the Illinois Broadcasters Association. “There exists today just too much confusion with both the public and those businesses associated with high school sports with respect to the IHSA’s role and limitations when it comes to high school athletics. The taxpayers of Illinois are the rightful owners of public high school athletics, just as they are of the gymnasiums and athletic fields where high school sports are played. LaVia’s resolution simply sets the stage for seeking clarity to the blurred lines that clearly exist today in regards to the IHSA and high school athletics.”
Rep. Chapa LaVia could’ve just held hearings on her own. She didn’t need a resolution. But this was obviously meant as a shot across the IHSA’s bow by the media groups, which have battled bitterly with the IHSA in the past.
* The IHSA zealously guards its turf, and they took full advantage of a line in the resolution that recommended that the House committee look at the feasibility of “statutorily transferring the duties and functions of the IHSA to the Illinois State Board of Education.” From Shaw Media…
[IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman] said in a radio interview with WRMJ in Aledo that Chapa LaVia’s proposal amounts to a state takeover. In a phone interview with Shaw Media on Friday afternoon, Hickman said the IHSA felt blindsided by the legislator’s efforts.
“We feel like we’re a very responsible organization,” Hickman said. “We pay our bills, we fund our pension, we balanced our budget and I would be happy to put our record of fiscal responsibility up against anyone – including the state of Illinois.
“If it’s that kind of conduct that warrants the government coming in and targeting you, then we are really in a bad way.”
* The proposal was even bashed as a money grab by Illinois Watchdog…
The Illinois Legislature certainly does not want to administer the state’s high school chess tournament, but lawmakers wouldn’t mind getting a piece of the millions of dollars high school basketball and high school football bring in each year.
* Rep. Chapa LaVia had to push back…
The potential hearings have raised concerns from the IHSA, which was warning people in recent weeks the state was trying to take over its operations and place control with the Illinois State Board of Education. Chapa LaVia, though, said that’s not her plan.
“My intention is not to move the IHSA under ISBE,” she said. “My intention is to bring them forward to answer questions.” […]
Chapa LaVia said when she tried to talk with the IHSA directly, its leaders “thought they could give me their records right there and keep it at that in a closed-door meeting. That’s not what we do around here.”
The group overseeing high school sports and extracurricular activities in Illinois will answer questions about its finances, despite its protests, which, ironically, have helped place it in front of a legislative committee.
“(It’s) suspicious,” state Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, D-Aurora, said Monday. “Why would anybody be afraid of a House resolution and hearings? If they don’t want to come, it’s kind of interesting.”
* She backed all the way off yesterday during floor debate…
State Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, D-Aurora, told colleagues Monday she was no longer trying to determine whether the Illinois State Board of Education should assume the duties now governed by the Bloomington-based IHSA.
“My intention is not to take them and put them under ISBE,” Chapa LaVia said. “That’s not my intention.”
* She also went on the attack…
She listed several instances where she contended the IHSA hadn’t acted properly and ought to explain itself.
She cited the 2013 controversy in which organizers of an IHSA-sanctioned Scholastic Bowl used plagiarized questions, and then the official who discovered they were plagiarized was fired.
Chapa LaVia also brought up how the IHSA had violated the rights of disabled athletes by preventing them from participating in sporting functions, which brought a lawsuit from Attorney General Lisa Madigan.
A ton of House members had excused absences yesterday, so the resolution only received 55 “Yes” votes. But 51 voted against it, and resolutions can pass with simple majorities of those voting.
So, on to the hearings. Ought to be great fun.