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A bitter battle is about to really get started

Tuesday, Apr 8, 2014

* 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.”

* And

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.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Ali Nagib - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 1:05 pm:

    I only wish this was all about fixing IHSA Scholastic Bowl….

  2. - OurMagician - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 1:07 pm:

    The IHSA needs to be looked at in some way. They make random rulings that are in direct opposite findings of other organizations and now have a success formula that if a private school does too well at a certain level, they’re bumped up even after using a multiplier. Marty Hickman deserves to squirm a little bit.

  3. - Formerly Known As... - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 1:08 pm:

    IHSA tends to fly under the radar. They impact the lives of so many of us who went to school in Illinois at one point or another, yet most people hardly give them a second though. I know I don’t.

    This is like lifting up a rug you forgot was tucked in the attic. It should have been picked up and dusted off years ago.

    Don’t fold them into the ISBE. Do give them a good spring cleaning.

  4. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 1:13 pm:

    ==Citizens throughout Illinois have been calling for more transparency in government.==

    The IHSA isn’t government. This is an abuse of power, IMO.

  5. - OneMan - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 1:20 pm:

    Don’t see the risk in a little sunshine….

  6. - Jeff Trigg - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 1:21 pm:

    With the recent turmoil, maybe it is time to consider separating school and sport. Sports is more about entertainment and less about education anyway. What happens when the football/sports concussion and head injury lawsuits start sapping school budgets?

  7. - Just Me - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 1:22 pm:

    I love legislators who talk about the need for more openness and transparency, and then they go into a caucus meeting.

  8. - countyline - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 1:30 pm:

    -I love legislators who talk about the need for more openness and transparency, and then they go into a caucus meeting-

    Indeed. How about applying the open meetings act to the GA.

  9. - Coach - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 1:33 pm:

    This is just crazy! The People of Illinois in my opinion are sick and tired of these legislator(s)not trying to resolve problems they have created in the past such as repaying the money they took out of pensions, balancing their budgets, funding education at the correct rate, etc! They have put in programs into schools that aren’t paid for, taken money away from the schools transportation allocation, and from their daily operation! Years ago schools had to pay an entry fee for each sport that they participated in with the IHSA, but as the IHSA became better off finacially, schools for the last several years have had to pay no entry fees! So the schools didn’t have to pay, it gave the kids the opportunity to participate and not just the schools that can afford to! Schools are given money to help defray costs such as mileage, lodging, food, etc. during tournament time. Its amazing that the IHSA can have a balanced Budget, solvent pension, and fiscal responsibility in their organization. The participating schools make the rules with their by-laws! Yes sometimes the decisions made by the IHSA over recruiting, and other areas of the athletic arena might not be popular with a certain district but overall you ask any Coach or Athletic Director or Principal and they would say that they are pleased with the organization and the way it is operated! Even though they may not agree with every decision just like we don’t agree with every lawmaker’s vote on an issue at the end we are pleased with the IHSA and its operation! I think this is just another way for a Representative to find more money for the State to play with! Leave the IHSA alone with their operation!

  10. - Motambe - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 1:37 pm:

    If you want real education reform, then separate sports and other activities from schools. Run an education program for college prep and vocational training from 8 am to 1 or 2 pm daily. Then school is out. For those students who want to play sports, sing in choirs, or play instruments, then they can go to clubs or lessons after school for those activities. And their parents pay for it. That is the system used in the nations that are leading the United States in the quality of their education - Japan, Germany, parts of the Asia/Pacific rim.

  11. - OneMan - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 1:40 pm:

    Well then Coach, the hearings will reveal how awesome the IHSA is and then the questions will go away.

    Isn’t that neat how that works?

  12. - He Makes Ryan Look Like a Saint - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 1:46 pm:

    As a coach, I am very happy to see someone put the IHSA in its place. The lack of accountability to it’s members is insane. Reciently a “success rule” was slammed through disregarding any bylaws they have, because some influential Principals didn’t like losing to schools.
    The IHSA takes 90% of the profits from the playoffs, and does nothing for them. They restrict coverage from news outlets (including school newspapers etc), and photographers under the guise that they have exclusive contracts.

    Get after them.

  13. - Formerly Known As... - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 1:46 pm:

    === The IHSA isn’t government. ===

    Interesting. I assumed IHSA was an official government entity.

    That shifts my opinion slightly, as I have trouble with the government trotting any private organization before the media for the sake of “oversight hearings” and battering them like a piñata. Public hearings for regular oversight of public agencies? Great. Public hearings targeting private organizations? Not a fan.

    For comparative purposes, it appears the IHSA is more like a state-level version of the NCAA than an official state organization. I have no love lost for the IHSA or NCAA, but do have some reservations about pulling any private group in front of the media like this.

    I suppose this qualifies as a sort of semi-public, semi-private function and is OK. As long as we don’t start pulling groups like Organizing for America, College Democrats & Republicans, or IPI in for public oversight hearings, let’s try this and see where things lead.

  14. - cicero - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 1:48 pm:

    IHSA: We aren’t ready for accountability. We don’t want a public spotlight. Who needs checks and balances?!

  15. - Jim'e' - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 2:10 pm:

    I like the sucecess rule. Afterall isn’t it really only affecting the private schools that have a large non-political boundry recruiting area? Yea, lets level the playing field for the public schools.

  16. - CircularFiringSquad - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 2:10 pm:

    If the Chopper really cared about rip offs she could hold a hearing on CAT stealing $2.5+ billion from the US and IL via off shore shenanigans

  17. - Carl Nyberg - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 2:10 pm:

    What percentage of schools that are part of IHSA are public schools?

    The idea that a bunch of units of gov’t can create a body that’s not government and insulated from accountability for being “private” is silly.

  18. - Leave a Light on George - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 2:19 pm:

    As a former state employee of nearly 28 years and a licensed IHSA sports official I can say with certainty that the last thing needed is state bureaucracy sticking its nose into high school sports.

  19. - Leave a Light on George - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 2:21 pm:

    Hope Todd V., NRA lobbyist kid is never cut from a team.

    Imagine all the state laws that will need changing then!!

  20. - Robert the Bruce - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 2:34 pm:

    ==What happens when the football/sports concussion and head injury lawsuits start sapping school budgets?==
    Doesn’t it just become hockey, with school-affiliated but not authorized teams? I think hockey does this.

  21. - Michelle Flaherty - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 2:50 pm:

    While the Press Association was ginning up this issue, I wonder what could have been happening elsewhere that it missed …

  22. - Arizona Bob - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 2:53 pm:

    “The IHSA isn’t government. This is an abuse of power, IMO.”

    The IHSA has been given regulatory power over tax payer and private athletic activities in Illinois. They profit from amateur events funded by State, Federal, and local tax dollars by fiat from the state legislature.

    They don’t compete for this role against groups like the AAU, so they’re given a “monopoly”.

    Schools can withdraw from IHSA, but IIRC IHSA schools won’t play non-IHSA schools without premission of…the IHSA.

    I understand that the IHSA is made up primarily of current and former private and public “educators”. That’s ENOUGH reason to be suspicious.

    Sunshine is the best disinfectant. Perhaps it’s time to shine some on the IHSA by making them comply with FOIA rules. I believe that may be done by statute, even if they aren’t “government” but provide a government regulatory service.

    They’re fighting this pretty hard. My guess is that they don’t want the backroom deals and less than honorable debates they have aired, and opening their books would possibly show that their patronage and cronyism may be worse than Streets and San, and adminstrative pay may be as much of an embarrassment as in higher ed.

    Could get really interestinig. IHSA has made a lot of enemies over the years.

  23. - Bobby Hill - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 2:58 pm:

    ===Motambe - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 1:37 pm: …And their parents pay for it!===

    I think Motambe just fixed many, many issues facing the state.

  24. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 3:16 pm:

    ==I understand that the IHSA is made up primarily of current and former private and public “educators”. That’s ENOUGH reason to be suspicious.==

    Have a problem with educators do we?

  25. - Robert the Bruce - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 3:26 pm:

    I may have missed it, but it’d be nice for the IHSA to publish an annual report so you see where the dollars are going.

    But I can’t imagine the IHSA staff is living the high life.

  26. - Michelle Flaherty - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 3:29 pm:

    “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.”

    The IHSA is an “it” not a “they.”

    Slow clap for the executive director of the Illinois Press Association.

    Perhaps someone could resolve to buy him a Stylebook and a copy of Strunk & White.

  27. - D.P.Gumby - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 3:30 pm:

    IHSA seems to take its lead from NCAA…”we’re big, we’re sports, ignore everything behind the curtain and don’t move the curtain”.

  28. - Ben - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 3:37 pm:

    They file a 990 annual tax report. $10 million in revenue with $18,594 in net revenue,$232,326 in net assets in 2011.

  29. - Anyone Remember - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 3:46 pm:

    This isn’t the first time IHSA has had the State reviewing their actions.

    Former Rep, and Congressman, Tim Johnson authored that one.

    And, at least through 2009, they got biennial audits by OAG, courtesy of 105 ILCS 5/10-22.40.

  30. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 3:47 pm:

    The IHSA has audited financial statements.,%202013%20and%202012.pdf

  31. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 3:50 pm:

    @Anyone Remember:

    The Audit requested by Johnson was because he was ticked off the IHSA moved the state boys basketball tournament away from the Assembly Hall.

  32. - ArchPundit - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 3:51 pm:

    This is an organization that can make a student ineligible to play high school sports based on all sorts of criteria including being involved in a non-school team at the same time as a school team. I’m not sure why an unelected, unaccountable body is allowed to make such decisions and not local school boards.

    Then again, I think NCAA is largely a sham too.

  33. - Anyone Remember - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 3:53 pm:

    @Demoralized -

    I do remember that. Anyone know why the OAG audits stopped? Does it have something to do with the IHSA not charging dues? Here in Springfield the AM sports radio station says IHSA makes enough money off tournaments they aren’t charging the schools dues, and haven’t in years.

  34. - Judgment Day - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 4:05 pm:

    “When They Say Its Not About The Money, It’s Always About The Money”

    There’s something in the background that NONE of the parties want to get pushed out front.


    The media folks (in particular broadcasters) are seeing local (high school) sports being the last available ‘cash cow’ where they are not having to fork out serious cash for broadcast rights to other parties, like, but not limited to, IHSA.

    They (media/broadcasters) want to make sure those payments for broadcasting rights won’t be happening anytime soon.

    Part of the reason this whole issue is coming up is that some different high school athletic conferences are looking for new revenue sources, in light of potential future cutbacks in local/high school sports funding.

    You have broadcasting groups who are talking about setting up complete multi-position filming of high school games, and then offering copies of game film for license to college athletics - in effect, acting as ‘advance scouting’ for college athletics.

    I just wonder if any of this is going to come out in these so-called ‘hearings’.

    That’s real money.

  35. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 4:08 pm:

    @Anyone Remember:

    The School Code sets out the requirements for payment of membership dues to the IHSA. Three criteria have to be met for a school to be able to pay dues. One of the criteria is an audit by the OAG. It’s permissive. I don’t know if the IHSA decided to forgo audits and that’s why they aren’t done or if something else happened.

  36. - Commonsense in Illinois - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 4:32 pm:

    Could we please do the Illinois Press Association next? What’s good for the goose…

  37. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 4:37 pm:

    Asking because I don’t know-is the IHSA one of the groups that had members getting State pensions through SURS via ISU?

  38. - frustrated GOP - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 4:58 pm:

    GO get them Linda. take on the “God Almighty IHSA”

  39. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 5:07 pm:

    March Madness just ended. I wonder if the IHSA would consider this April Antagonization?

  40. - Right Field - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 5:32 pm:

    With all that money floating around, why not unionize HS players too?

  41. - CircularFiringSquad - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 5:33 pm:

    Not sure you is failing to look but ISHA tax return on internet…they have about $10.9 million in revenue and about $10.8 million of expenses…Hickman makes about $180k. Nice piece of change, but hold up on the condo in Palm Springs….We can look up IPA next

  42. - steve schnorf - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 5:37 pm:

    Carl Nyberg, so you would make the Illinois Municipal League, Ass’n of Counties, et al subject to state supervision?

    I’m not sure how the IHSA receives tax dollars; through memberships I suppose, like quite a few other private non-profits do, and a whole lot of for profits. Does that make them subject to state supervision or regulation?

  43. - Anyone Remember - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 5:45 pm:

    steve schnorf

    IF the Illinois Municipal League is still distributing the foreign fire tax receipts to municipalities, for those activities, yes.

  44. - JoeInPeoria - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 9:31 pm:

    1 word on why Chapa La Via is interested in this: Mooseheart……..non sports fans may want to read up on the recent controversy during the boy’s tourney in Peoria….

  45. - Right Field - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 9:35 pm:

    > schnorf: I’m not sure how the IHSA receives tax dollars; through memberships I suppose…

    There are no longer any dues paid by member school districts.

  46. - Third Reading - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 9:38 pm:

    @ Ben 3:37 –

    They file a 990 annual tax report. $10 million in revenue with $18,594 in net revenue,$232,326 in net assets in 2011.

    Right you are, sir! Interesting reading, too.

    Neat-trick-in-general: all IRS Forms 990 (i.e., tax returns of 501(c) nonprofit groups) are public record. So — look up most any large-ish nonprofit that may be of interest to you, and see what they do with their bucks.

    Best portal for this is Tell them that ol’ Third Reading sent you. (Snark.)

    @ Robert the Bruce, 3:26 –

    But I can’t imagine the IHSA staff is living the high life.

    Among the chestnuts in ISHA’s Form 990 for FY 2011 (the latest one available on Guidestar): senior staff salaries, by name.

    In FY 2011, nine senior ISHA staffers pulled down $813,942 in salaries and $187,247 in bennies (total: $1,001,189.) Marty Hickman received about a quarter of this amount: $253,360, to be precise.

    @Commonsense in Illinois, 4:32 –

    Could we please do the Illinois Press Association next?

    Sorry, I don’t find them in Perhaps they’re not a 501c3.

    I’m outta here.

  47. - Rollo Tomasi - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 10:23 pm:

    Marty makes 180K and would get a 120K pension. Each round of the High School Football Playoffs the ticket prices go up $1 to fund those pensions. Marty has a nice gig going, but not as good as retired mayor Daley gets.

  48. - VPlena - Wednesday, Apr 9, 14 @ 12:51 am:

    I don’t agree with IHSA does, but having the State legislature and government get involved is insane !!!!

  49. - OneMan - Wednesday, Apr 9, 14 @ 7:54 am:

    1 word on why Chapa La Via –

    Well more than Mooseheart a couple of other schools in/near her district have had some issues with the IHSA in the past (including the year they canceled the state wrestling championship)

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    * John Frayne: Gunns mixed it up in an intimate setting
    * Ted Kooser: An American Life in Poetry, Oct. 4, 2015

    * Late field goal lifts Chicago Bears to first win
    * Lions travel to Seattle, face challenge to avoid 0-4 start
    * The Latest: Marshawn Lynch to miss game Monday night
    * Spike in Palestinian attacks raise fears of another Intifada
    * Images: Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell's year

    * House lawmakers overcome hurdle on key tra...
    * Rodney Davis talks funding with Bloomingto...
    * The agency that fought Illiana gets a new ...
    * Rep. Dold takes educational cruise down Ch...
    * Lawmakers decry high turnover rate of VA h...
    * CBD Oil, and politics
    * Simon considering state Senate bid
    * Killer Congressman Tom MacArthur trying to...
    * Shutdown? State may not notice
    * Rep. Bob Dold

    * Senators Introduce Landmark Bipartisan Sen......

    * Kirk's VA bill fails to move ahead in Sena......
    * Committee Passage of Measure to Support Ju......
    * Chez Family Foundation Center for Wounded ......

    * McHenry Community High School teachers are out.
    * We drove to McHenry this Sunday to support striking teachers in District 156.
    * Party, and Decorate, and Trick-or-Treat, All In Sheridan Park on Halloween
    * Hebru Brantley Mural Completed On Broadway
    * East St. Louis teachers walk out.
    * Sunday posts, pics and tweets.
    * Meet Uptown's "Gangsters and Ghosts" On October 29th
    * You’re Invited – Illinois REbarcamp Powered by YPN!
    * Next 10 general admission registrants for Vertex 15 Conference get extras
    * Chicago chapter of NAREB collaborates to serve consumers

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