Missouri bill could deprive MSHSAA control of high school activities

Wednesday, January 30, 2008 | 9:08 p.m. CST; updated 4:29 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — A House committee wants to play ball with the state’s leading high school sports authority.

A bill discussed Wednesday would give control of extracurricular activities at high schools to the state Education Department. This would effectively srip the Missouri State High School Activities Association, a private organization based in Columbia, of its responsibilities of overseeing most high school sports, debate and music activities.

Chairman of the Special Committee on Student Achievement Scott Muschany said the bill stems from a “real concern” over MSHSAA’s practices.

“There is growing sentiment that MSHSAA as a private organization making decisions regarding sports using public funds is not a good decision,” he said. “The damage has been done.”

Muschany described the organization as “the judge, jury and executioner” of high school extracurricular activities.

The purpose of the bill, Muschany said, would be to right MSHSAA’s wrongs.

“This is to provide some redress to people who disagree with MSHSAA decisions,” he said.

But MSHSAA Executive Director Kerwin Urhahn said disagreements are inevitable.

“There’s always a situation when people aren’t happy,” he said. “We try to be fair and consistent.”

Muschany said MSHSAA could still work under the Education Department, should the bill pass. But Urhahn said the organization’s participants are strongly opposed to the idea.

“If under (Department of Elementary and Secondary Education), our member schools would lose their voice in the rule-making process,” he said.

The committee did not hear any opposition Wednesday.

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