Allen files bills to audit AHSAA, block red tape

Published 9:20 pm Thursday, February 13, 2020

Rep. Wes Allen, R-Pike, has carried forward a bill into the House to have the Alabama Department of Public Examiners audit the Alabama High School Athletic Association.

The bill, House Bill 184, is a narrower version of legislation introduced last session by Rep. Kyle South that was, in part, a response to the AHSAA suspension of Charles Henderson High School girls basketball standout Maori Davenport.

That bill also contained language, however, that would have given the legislature oversight of the AHSAA despite its status as a private organization.

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Allen removed that language from the current bill, which only focuses on auditing the organization.

“It didn’t make it through last session and I decided to pick it up,” Allen said. “It’s all about transparency for me. The AHSAA is primarily funded through private funds, but their full-time employees may participate in the retirement system funded by tax dollars. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to request for transparency. We just want to bring some sunshine to the issue. Taxpayers expect transparency and it is our duty to provide transparency.”

The bill is currently being considered by the House State Government Committee.

The bill would have the AHSAA audited in the same manner as other state agencies.

The point of the AHSAA’s position between public and private institution was a point of contention in a lawsuit against the CHHS that allowed Davenport to finish out her senior season at CHHS.

“The plaintiff is affirmatively challenging any precedent that the defendants are entitled to heightened judicial deference or judicial restraint,” Davenports’ lawyers argued in their motion to the court. “Such precedent is based on a misapprehension that the AHSAA is a voluntary organization.

“In truth, the AHSAAA in its current embodiment and through its current conduct is not a voluntary organization. Even though the AHSAA was founded in 1921 as a private association, it has evolved into a state actor.

“The AHSAA regulates athletics for 780 high schools, middle schools and over 150,000 student-athletes, all the while using state dollars and state facilities. Schools effectively have no choice but to join the AHSAA to be allowed to take part in athletics.”

The lawsuit was dropped and thus the challenge was never considered in the courtroom.

Allen has also refiled a bill that would require agencies to seek approval from the Alabama Legislature before enacting any proposed rule or rule change that would have an economic impact of more than $1 million.

The bill failed to pass the legislature in the last session.

“I believe that it is important for agencies to understand their role and that their actions have a real impact on people.,” Allen said. “With this bill, we will know what the true monetary impact of rule changes are and the legislature will have to sign off on them before they are enacted.”