The Norman Transcript

Columns

June 4, 2013

Ego, unchecked power rule at OSSAA

NORMAN — On Tuesday, the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association (OSSAA) will rule on the eligibility appeal of David Cornwell, an incoming senior student-athlete from Norman North who is the consensus No. 1 high school quarterback in the country. His list of schools recruiting him is voluminous.

The issue is whether Cornwell has already exhausted his four years of high school eligibility, since he was unable to complete a semester of school and football in fall 2011 because he made the decision to put family first and served as caregiver to his mother, who was suffering from a debilitating four-month illness that could have claimed her life.

Cornwell, who was not even a major football prospect at the time, said that he made a decision based on what was best for his family. David chose his mother over football, and the OSSAA is now holding his senior year hostage.

This summer, along with Rep. Marty Quinn, R-Claremore, and Rep. Jason Murphey, R- Guthrie, we will conduct an interim legislative study to review how the OSSAA works and make recommendations to Speaker T.W. Shannon.

I hear from student-athletes and parents weekly who have, at best, received poor customer service and, at worst, been treated with malice by this organization. Why? Ego and unchecked power rule the day for this pseudo-government entity whose membership is “voluntary,” yet governs most Oklahoma high schools with an iron fist on issues related to athletics.

OSSAA is classified as a 501c3 nonprofit organization, but they derive millions from tournaments and fees from schools, which receive taxpayer dollars.

When public funds are implicated, there must be accountability and transparency. When the young people of this state are involved in athletics and other competitive activities, we must ensure fairness and access to an effective and expeditious review.

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