The House approved an amended measure this week allowing the S.C. High School League to continue overseeing middle and high school sports in the state.
Legislators voted 105-1 to put into state law changes the league made to its own rules at its convention in Charleston earlier this month. It appears the 99-year-old league saved itself from extinction.
The league’s 207 member schools heard legislators’ warning, said Rep. Mike Anthony, D-Union. The retired coach and athletic director traveled to Charleston to stress the need to make changes or risk more drastic ones.
“It’s been a wake-up call for coaches, athletic directors and principals,” he said, noting nearly 500 people attended the meeting
The measure initially eliminated the independent, dues-paying organization and transferred its duties to the state Education Department, under an athletic commissioner appointed by the state superintendent.
Legislators have long complained about the league and their inability to have any say over decisions. But league decisions that knocked defending state football champion Goose Creek out of the playoffs last November prompted bills to get rid of it.
The league’s executive committee twice ruled Goose Creek High School had to forfeit all 10 games in which an ineligible player dressed to play. The second decision followed a Circuit Court judge ordering the league to reconsider.
Changes approved that would become state law are:
* Creation of a 11-member appellate panel to hear appeals if a student or school is not satisfied with the High School League’s executive committee’s decision.
Members will be appointed by the legislative delegations of each of the state’s seven congressional districts and the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce.
Rounding out the panal will be current athletics directors or coaches appointed by the governor, the speaker of the House and the president protem of the Senate.
* Changing the rule regarding the use of ineligible players to include four levels of violations: self-reported minor offense, non-reported minor violation, self-reported major violation and non-reported major violations.
Punishments will now be based on if the violation gave a school a competitive advantage.
The House bill requires another vote before heading to the Senate.
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