THERE ARE BAD ideas. Then there are really bad ideas. Joe Daning, a Republican state representative from Berkeley County, has brought forth one of the latter in the form of a bill that would abolish the South Carolina High School League. Daning wants the South Carolina Department of Education to run high school athletics.
Where to begin?
Understand, the SCHSL has problems, always has. But to believe that the non-profit organization that operates high school sports would be better off under the direction of the state of South Carolina is to believe the Palmetto State is a national leader in K-12 education.
How about our state legislators work out our education problems before delving into the world of sports? How about our state legislators concern themselves with our corroding infrastructure before taking on high school football eligibility issues?
Until then, we can only hope Danings proposed legislation serves to facilitate change with the way SCHSL operates, not abolishes it altogether.
Daning says his belief that the SCHSL should cease operation stems from hearing annually of its problems during his five years as a legislator. The tipping point, he admits, came when Goose Creek High was disqualified from the Class 4A, Division II football playoffs this past season for using an ineligible player.
I said, enough is enough, Daning said, and I submitted my legislation.
Danings bill has passed through a sub-committee and committee and now is headed to the House floor for debate. His proposal would retain the SCHSL constitution and many of its rules. It would call for Mick Zais, the state superintendent of education, to appoint a director of the newly formed organization.
Danings proposal includes three specific areas of concern.
First, a layer of disciplinary action would be added for violations by member schools.
Right now, if a school is in violation ... its basically a death sentence, Daning said. Thats it. Youre done.
Second, an executive committee similar to the one that exists with the SCHSL would be created. The difference would be that Danings executive committee would be geographically representative of the state. The SCHSLs executive committee rules on all violations.
Right now, (the SCHSL) executive committee does not represent the state, Daning said. They have also refused the nomination of the only person below or south of I-95 for next year. If it goes through and it passes, there will be no representation on their executive committee from anybody below I-95.
Third, an independent body separate from the executive committee would be established specifically to review appeals. The SCHSL executive committee currently rules on all violations and makes decisions on all appeals.
We dont do that in any other system, Daning said.
Jerome Singleton is the executive director of the SCHSL. He said this week that the league takes Danings proposed legislation seriously. He also said it is important for the public to realize that the SCHSL does not make its rules. The league operates much like the NCAA, whose member institutions propose and approve all rules. The SCHSL, like the NCAA, implements the rules.
The SCHSLs annual meeting is schedule for the second weekend in March, and Singleton said member schools will present rules proposals that address all of Danings concerns.
I will tell you, if (the SCHSL) will make the changes, Im OK with that, Daning said. We have asked them to make the changes. Thats the entire reason the bill is there. They, so far, have refused to make those changes.
Singleton said he would support all changes approved by SCHSL members.
Hopefully, good changes, Singleton said, not just changes for the sake of changes. ... Well try to improve it as many ways as we possibly can so the high school league will continue to exist.
That really is the way it should be. The SCHSL is in the business of overseeing high school athletics. The state legislature is not.