NORMAN — State Rep. Bobby Cleveland said Wednesday the first day of a legislative study examining the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association highlighted inconsistencies in how the organization enforces its own rules.
“The meeting consisted of coaches, parents and lawyers discussing how the rules are enforced inconsistently and based on favoritism,” said Cleveland, R-Slaughterville. “When a member of the board represents the school in question, they rule favorably. In other cases, they rule differently on the same question, as if the rules don’t matter.”
Hosted Tuesday, the first day of the study began with a description of two cases by Idabel attorney Kevin Sain. In both cases, courts ruled against the OSSAA. Sain represented the son of a head coach who moved from Tulsa to Idabel.
“We had an all-day hearing, and it was just one bad fact after another over how the OSSAA failed to afford any due process to this kid and failed to follow their own constitution and basically failed as an organization and as adults, in my opinion,” Sain said. “The Rucker case was a prime example of how the OSSAA wields its power to get its point across at the expense of a student athlete.”
Veteran coach Jim Dixon said in his more than 35 years of coaching, he had never seen the relationship between coaches and the organization in such a low state.
Leon Davis, a parent, described his experience when his son transferred districts but was blocked from playing under an OSSAA ruling that ran contrary to its own rules. Norman parents John Argo and Jim Gasso also gave their perspectives.
Trey McNeil, representing the USSAA All Star Games in San Antonio, noted that a new OSSAA rule states that if you play football in Oklahoma, you cannot participate in the USSAA All Star Games.
A Mustang football coach noted that the organization had failed to follow its own rules when he requested to allow his son to transfer from the Pauls Valley school district because of the lack of Advanced Placement classes available there.
Other participants were attorney Phyllis Walta, High School Football Association President Kim Longest, Lynn Martin with the Alva Review-Courier and Bishop McGuiness Athletic Director Gary Savely. The second day of the study will be hosted Tuesday and will examine the financial transparency of the organization, Cleveland said.
“We are going to look at how Oklahoma’s Open Meetings Act might apply to an organization that is ruled to be a quasi-government entity and the current level of transparency,” Cleveland said.