Staff report

A bill that would effectively eliminate the S.C. High School League has advanced to the floor of the House of Representatives, putting the state one step closer to running high school athletics in South Carolina.

The House Education and Public Works Committee voted 12-6 on Wednesday to advance the bill, filed by Rep. Joe Daning (R-Goose Creek) in the wake of the Goose Creek High School football controversy.

The undefeated Gators were denied a chance to defend their state championship for using an allegedly ineligible player.

The bill would place high school athletics in South Carolina under the authority of the state Dept. of Education, and require public schools to disassociate with the High School League, an independent entity that is funded through member dues and state championship revenue.

Daning told the S.C. Radio Network that legislators have met with High School League officials to ask for changes to the organization’s rules. Those changes include establishing different levels of punishment, adding geographical balance to the SCHSL’s executive committee and creating an independent panel to hear appeals. He said the High School League did not agree with the proposals.

The SCHSL executive committee rejected a similar package of proposals made by Berkeley County School District officials in January.

“Schools subcontract to the High School League to control and promulgate all the rules and regulations for athletics,” Daning said. “They’re not doing their job. We need to get a new contractor. That’s the way I look at it.”

The bill is likely to increase pressure on the High School League to make rule changes at its March 9 meeting in Charleston. The league membership can vote to adopt new rules even if they were not recommended by the executive committee.