The South Carolina High School League, the governing body of high school athletics in the state, is facing a challenge from Daniel Island Republican State Representative Jim Merrill.
Merrill has profiled a measure that would disband the league and move its responsibilities to the South Carolina Department of Education. Merrill says the group is too autonomous and needs greater accountability. He says in his interactions with members of the league he felt bullied.
Some accuse Merrill of writing the bill to get back at the league for two decisions this year made against athletic teams at Hanahan High School, which is in Merrill’s district. Merrill acknowledges that he has a vested interest in Hanahan High School as well as the other schools in his district, but his concerns about the league go beyond what occurred at Hanahan High School.
The Hanahan football team had to forfeit nine games for using an ineligible player. The wrestling team was also cited for using an ineligible participant. In addition, the High School League fined the school $3,300.
Outgoing South Carolina Superintendent of Education Jim Rex, a former high school football coach, told the Charleston Post & Courier he’s concerned that shifting the responsibilities from the league to the Education department would add more pressure to the agency at a time when millions of dollars have been cut from the budget. Merrill says the bottom line is the High School League needs more public oversight.