April 19, 2014

Bill takes absolute power away from High School League

The South Carolina High School League has made decisions detrimental to their mission of making sure teenagers have a well-rounded high school experience, according to Charleston legislator Jim Merrill.

Merrill bill adds High School League oversight by an elected official.

Rep. Merrill has proposed a bill to make sure final appeals of the league’s decisions are heard by the South Carolina Superintendent of Education, instead of the board that hires the league’s CEO.

“There seems to be a bit of a disconnect there. And where I really have an issue is that none of these people, even though we are using public funds, public facilities and we are effecting school children and taxpayer’s children, there are no elected representatives who can be held accountable for these decisions,” Merrill says.

In a recent controversial league decision, the 4-A defending champion Goose Creek High School football team was kicked out of the state playoffs after the school reported having an ineligible player. Many in the community thought the sentence of the executive committee was overly harsh because the player in question did not get much playing time. The committee also tried to conduct the hearing in private, in violation of state FOIA laws. The appeal was again heard in public, after a state judge intervened. The board voted to disqualify Goose Creek.

The school is not in Merrill’s district.

“The group, which has a such a profound influence on high school athletes, on children through their authority over sports programming, whether it be the amount of school that kids attend, how much they travel to go to games, the amount of public monies that are used to support those facilities and the like, you can go on and on, including who’s eligible to play and who is not eligible to play,” says Merrill.

Merrill says the this impact cannot be overlooked: “You’ve got 80 kids out there and cheerleaders and bands out there that are never going to get that back. An you can minimize it any way you want to, but that’s not fair, not right because you have profoundly impacted their lives.”

Executives with the SC High School League could not be reached for comment.