Members of the S.C. High School League approved two amendments to its constitution Saturday in an attempt to appease state lawmakers, who were putting pressure on the group to make changes to its executive committee and to its appeals process that handles punishment procedures.
The organization, at its annual conference in Charleston, voted 167-40 to approve an appellate panel that will hear appeals if a student or school is not satisfied with the High School League’s executive committee’s decision.
The appeals committee will consist of 11 members, including one person who will be appointed by the legislative delegations of each of the state’s seven congressional districts.
Three current athletics directors or coaches will also be on the committee. One will be picked by the state governor, another by the speaker of the house and a third by the president protem of the senate.
The final member will represent the business community and will be picked by the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce.
The other constitutional change involves the use of ineligible players.
The old rule stated that schools that use ineligible players must forfeit the game in which they participated. The new rule states that a school might have to forfeit a game in which the ineligible student participated.
There will now be four levels of violations: self-reported minor offense, non-reported minor violation, self-reported major violation and non-reported major violations. Punishments will be based on if the violation gave a school a competitive advantage.
Both amendments were the result of the Goose Creek football team’s use of an ineligible player. The Gators were thrown out of the state playoffs and were denied a chance to win their second straight state championship. The controversies caused lawmakers to sponsor bills that could have ended the reign of the 99-year-old South Carolina High School League.
A bill sponsored by Rep. Joe Daning (R-Goose Creek) reached the House floor. A Senate panel heard testimony Wednesday on a bill sponsored by Sen. Chip Campsen (R-Isle of Palms) that would place high school athletics under the state Dept. of Education, with a commissioner appointed by the state superintendent.
The High School League tried to placate the lawmakers. But it remains to be seen what happens.
“I heard Campsen didn’t care what happens today,” said Goose Creek football coach and athletic director Chuck Reedy said. “I heard he’s moving forward with his bill. I met with Sen. Wes Hayes and members of the education subcommittee this week and they are waiting to see what happens down here.”
State representative Jackie Hayes, who also coaches at Dillon, felt the High School League members made decisions that should take pressure off the organization.
“I really think we got some things accomplished,” he said. “We let the body decide it. We took care of it ourselves. I’m sure there will be some additional changes, but we did the main things the lawmakers wanted.”
Reedy was pleased penalties handed down by the league are more flexible.
“They were handing out the death penalty for a speeding ticket in a sense,” he said. “The penalty should fit the violation.”
However, Berkeley County’s proposal to ensure gender and ethnic representation on the executive committee was shot down.