Last month, the S.C. High School League executive committee rejected a package of rules changes proposed by Berkeley County in the wake of the Goose Creek football controversy.
State legislators fared little better when they met with High School League officials, reports Rep. Joe Daning (R-Goose Creek).
But the pressure on the High School League cranked up this week when Daning’s bill to effectively replace the SCHSL made it to the floor of the state House of Representatives.
The bill, which would place high school athletics under the state Dept. of Education, made it out of the Education and Public Works Committee by a vote of 12-6 on Wednesday. It should be debated on the House floor next week, Daning said.
High School League officials had asked Daning to hold off on the bill until the SCHSL membership meets on March 9 in Charleston, he said. SCHSL Members could vote to adopt changes at that time.
“I said no,” Daning said Thursday. “I’m going to keep pushing the bill. If we hold off, that takes the pressure off. It may take two weeks to get it out of the House, and then it goes to the Senate and the whole process starts again.
“So they have plenty of time to make changes. If they do, then fine.”
Some of the changes legislators asked for include establishing different levels of punishment for infractions; adding geographical balance to the SCHSL’s executive committee; and creating an independent panel to hear appeals.
The SCHSL executive committee voted not to recommend a similar package of proposals made by Berkeley County School District officials in January.
Daning’s bill stems from the controversy at Goose Creek, where the undefeated Gators were denied a chance to defend their state football title for using an allegedly ineligible player.
“In the five years I’ve been in the State House, I’ve heard rumblings about the High School League and what they do,” Daning said. “But after what they did to Goose Creek, that’s what prompted it.
“I looked at some of their other decisions and said, somebody’s got to reign these guys in. I think they have good intentions, but they’ve lost sight of what they should be doing.”
The High School League is an independent entity that is funded through member dues and state championship revenue.
Wednesday’s Education Committee meeting was contentious, with legislators using terms such as “arrogant” and “bombastic” to describe actions by SCHSL officials, according to the S.C. Radio News Network.
“I think they know you are serious,” Rep. Harold Mitchell (D-Spartanburg) reportedly told Daning during the hearing.