In wake of Goose Creek controversy, High School League rejects Berkeley County proposals
The executive committee of the S.C. High School League rejected proposals made by the Berkeley County School District in the wake of the Goose Creek High School football controversy.
S.C. High School League members will vote on proposed rule changes during the athletic administrators spring meetings March 6-10 in Charleston.
The committee voted Tuesday to not recommend rule changes proposed by Berkeley County after the Gators were denied the chance to defend their state title because of an ineligible player.
The committee’s vote does not prevent the proposals from being approved by the SCHSL membership in March. But it does make it less likely that the changes will be adopted, said Goose Creek principal Jimmy Huskey.
“A lot of times, amendments they don’t recommend won’t make it through,” Huskey said. “Sometimes they will, but not too often.”
The executive committee is also not recommending two proposals seemingly targeted at private and/or magnet schools that play in the SCHSL, such as Lowcountry schools Bishop England and Academic Magnet.
A proposal from Branchville High School to kick non-public schools out of the SCHSL was voted down by the committee.
Also rejected was an idea from Spartanburg County to force schools such as Academic Magnet and Bishop England, which have countywide or controlled enrollments, to compete in separate state championship playoffs.
After the outrage and court appeals sparked by the Goose Creek situation last year, Berkeley County officials proposed two amendments to the SCHSL constitution.
The first addressed the makeup of the 18-member executive committee, of which Huskey is the only member from the Lowcountry.
The proposed change would have allowed up to three at-large members to be appointed to ensure “gender, ethnic and geographic representatives.” Current rules allow only for “gender and ethnic representatives.”
That idea was voted down, 12-4, Huskey said.
“We felt this was a way to give some power back to the actual body of the High School League, to let them decide who will be on the committee,” Huskey said. “I’m a little disappointed by that. We feel like the lower part of the state needs more representation.”
Berkeley County’s second amendment would establish four levels of violations, along with corresponding penalties, and distinguish between violations that are self-reported or provide a competitive advantage. That idea also was rejected, though the vote total was not available.
“Right now, there’s no difference between a school that self-reports or someone who gets caught by the High School League,” Huskey said. “We tried to spell that out, the difference between a paperwork mistake and gaining a competitive advantage.
“The committee asked, ‘What do you consider a competitive advantage?’ And it’s very difficult to decide what that is.”
State Sen. Paul Campbell, R-Berkeley, was disappointed by the committee’s votes.
“We’ve got to change the High School League, or revise it significantly,” he said. “There’s unequal representation on the committee, and we need an appeals process. When the commissioner makes a decision, the committee is afraid to override him.”
Campbell said a bill in the state legislature would put the SCHSL under the Dept. of Education, and bring appeals to the S.C. Administrative Law Court.
“The bill is going through the process, and we’ll see how far it goes,” Campbell said. “But they’ve got to have some kind of appeals process outside the league.”
The executive committee did recommend a proposal from Greenwood County that would establish a five-member “Eligibility Hardship Committee.”
The problem, Huskey said, is that the eligibility committee would be made up of executive committee members.
“It’s the same guys,” he said. “There’s still no one outside to hear that decision.”