Illinois state representative has questions for IHSA

Illinois state representative has questions for IHSA
April 7, 2014, 2:30 pm
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Edgy Tim

It seems that the IHSA has another state legislator looking into its affairs.

Aurora state representative Linda Chapa LaVia (D) recently sponsored House Bill 895, which asks for the Illinois State Board of Education to conduct hearings with the IHSA to discuss various issues and questions.

In House Bill 895, Chapa LaVia questions the IHSA handling of various issues, which includes placing limited access and restrictions to various media outlets, along with granting exclusive contracts that the IHSA holds with various contractors. The IHSA has refused to make details of those contracts public. The IHSA is a not-for-profit organization and is also not funded by tax payer dollars.

The main focus of this bill seems to be on the IHSA's exclusive contract with NFHS (National Federation of State High Schools Association), which was granted the exclusive rights to live video stream all IHSA state playoff games. NHFS implemented its exclusive rights contract during the 2013 IHSA football state playoffs. Up until then, all live video streaming of games was free and was done by various outlets including newspapers. The sudden flipping of the pay-per-view switch during the state playoffs caught several fans and media outlets off guard and the move drew some criticism.

The IHSA has responded to House Bill 895 in a press release. IHSA Executive Direct Marty Hickman has also made comments on various media across the state.

I've spoken to several athletic directors and coaches on HR895, and so far the response has been generally the same.

"I certainly have issues with the IHSA at times, yet if I had a choice between either the IHSA or the ISBE running sports, I'll take the IHSA every time," said one athletic director.

One veteran head coach added, "Don't we have enough to worry about these days in Springfield?"

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On Monday evening the IHSA released the following statement from IHSA executive director Marty Hickman:

"We believe that the Illinois High School Association has been a model of transparency in the great state of Illinois for over 100 years. The Association has nothing to hide and will be fully cooperative with the General Assembly, as we have done on so many other issues before. 

"We wish Representative Chapa LaVia had provided the courtesy of discussing any issues she believes exist within our organization prior to the introduction of this Resolution, which has unfairly cast the Association in a negative light. While we believe the hearings she proposes will be an unnecessary strain on the time and resources of both the General Assembly and the IHSA, we welcome the opportunity to clear up any misconceptions this Resolution has created.

"As we await word from the General Assembly on the next step in this process, it will be business as usual at the IHSA: administering spring sports and activities for the hundreds of thousands of high school students in Illinois who participate in them. 

"We will also maintain posting our financial information online for the public to review, continue to be a national leader in student-athlete safety and offer one of the largest and most inclusive rosters of programs for high school students in the country."