The Senate unanimously voted 54 to 0 Thursday to require the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) to publish yearly financial reports in order for schools to participate in their events.
The GHSA is a voluntary organization of about 400 schools across the state.
Schools pay dues to join the GHSA, which in turn, hosts the state playoffs and championships for everything from dramatic competitions to football and other sports.
Republican Senator Charlie Bethel of Dalton is sponsoring the bill. He says the GHSA posted its financial information after a recent committee meeting on the issue and that he’s satisfied with that.
“When they have a playoff game, let’s say they have a softball game at, you know, Lakeside High School, who pays for the utility bill at the field? Who cuts the grass? Who keeps the bleachers in order? It’s the school with taxpayer dollars,” said Bethel.
But Sen. Renee Unterman of Buford added an amendment to the bill that would allow for state oversight of the GHSA. She feels the organization’s board does not truly represent Georgia.
“There’s absolutely no diversity,” said Unterman.
GHSA Executive Director Ralph Swearngin disputes that claim.
The GHSA board has 58 members. 10 are from the Department of Education and other statewide offices.
Regions choose their own representation for the other 48 seats, and Swearngin says the legislature doesn’t need a say.
“Personally, I really believe that it’s school-based athletics and school people ought to be the people who make those policy decisions,” said Swearngin.
Sen. Bethel says he does not want the state to run the GHSA—though he admits other lawmakers might.
FULL DISCLOSURE: GPB HAS A WORKING RELATIONSHIP WITH THE GHSA BROADCASTING THE ANNUAL BASKETBALL, FOOTBALL AND CHEERLEADING CHAMPIONSHIPS.