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Idaho Bill Would Give Politicians Power Over Prep Sports

Brock Fritz

A proposed bill would give Idaho legislators final say on the state’s high school sports issues.

According to the Idaho Statesman, state representative Brent Crane recently proposed a bill that would establish a review board to oversee the Idaho High School Activities Association. Crane envisions the board ruling on complaints from individuals opposing IHSAA rulings. The bill suggests a three-member board that would include two appointed state legislators — one from the House and one from the Senate — as well as a member of the IHSAA.

“There has got to be something different than allowing the Idaho High School (Activities) Association to be judge, jury and executioner,” Crane, who had initially proposed making the IHSAA part of the State Department of Education, told the Statesman. “And that’s the current process that you have.

“Part of the problem that we’ve been exposed to with COVID is some of these agencies have unelected representation that are making rules that infringe on individuals’ rights. We’ve been very sensitive to that and view it through that lens of, how can we make sure that citizens feel like they have a recourse if there is a grievance there?”

The IHSAA is a private nonprofit that formed in 1925. Board members are chosen to represent specific regions or groups, such as superintendents, principals, athletic directors, coaches and teachers. There are no public elections, but the representatives are selected by their specific group.

The board of directors declined to voluntarily agree to the creation of a review board last week, when presented with the proposal by Crane and representative Barbara Ehardt.

“I think they honestly feel it’s a legislative overreach,” IHSAA executive director Ty Jones said. “We already have an appeals process in place. You usually get up to two appeals, and we feel pretty comfortable with the way it’s set up.

“Our board is made up of every region in the state representing many different activity groups. It didn’t seem smart to them, or prudent, to have three people overrule a 15-person appeals board.”

Crane and Ehardt have been frustrating with the way the IHSAA limited attendance at sporting events this winter. The duo also sponsored a bill to lift all gathering limits. It passed the House in February but stalled in the Senate.

“There’s a long list of complaints and frustrations,” Ehardt said. “This is not just about COVID. But COVID really brought things to light as far as something needs to change.”

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