The fate of the S.C. High School League appears to depend on whether members approve a series of athletics rules changes at its annual meeting this weekend.
After one of the states top football teams was disqualified from the playoffs last year, lawmakers proposed three bills that would switch regulation of athletics from the independent high school league to the S.C. Department of Education.
A hearing on one of the two Senate bills drew an overflow crowd to the State House on Wednesday.
The Senate panel did not vote on the bill to see how the high school leagues legislative assembly votes on creating an appeals board, widening geographical representation on its executive committee and establishing lesser penalties for eligibility violations other than forfeiting games.
A bill ending the high school league reached the House floor last month, but debate was suspended until Monday -- after the assembly meets in Charleston.
The Senate panel heard from Goose Creek head football coach Chuck Reedy, whose undefeated team was disqualified in the state playoffs last year after the school learned one of its players ineligible.
The player did not affect the outcomes of games, having participated in 17 plays late in five contests where the Gators led by at least 41 points, Reedy told senators.
The coach said the league ignored his pleas to punish him, not his players. The school appealed to the leagues executive committee and got a temporary reprieve after heading to circuit court but Goose Creek was prevented from defending its state title.
But the leagues minimum penalty is forfeiting games where an ineligible player participated, executive director Jerome Singleton said. The league can hand down more severe penalties if the school was found to willfully use an ineligible player.
We were speeding, turned ourselves in and OK youre going to the death penalty for that, Reedy said. The way we were treated was a travesty of justice.
Even Reedy did not think the league should go away.
Im not here to abolish the High School League, he told senators. Im here to say, Fix the league.' If they wont make changes, I encourage you to make the changes for them.
State Sen. Wes Hayes, a York Republican who chaired the senate panel, replied: I hope they are listening to you in that meeting in Charleston.