PIAA Reform Bill Goes to Governor's Desk

Nov 22, 2000, 00:00 ET from Senator James J. Rhoades

    HARRISBURG, Pa., Nov. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- State senators advocating for
 sweeping reforms within the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletics Association
 (PIAA) today scored a major victory for the rights of student athletes and
 their parents with the passage of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletics
 Accountability Act.
     The legislation, which now goes to Governor Tom Ridge for his signature,
 directs the newly created Interscholastic Athletics Oversight Council to shut
 down the PIAA in three years if the organization fails to complete twelve key
 reforms.
     "For the first time in its history, the PIAA will be accountable for the
 way it runs interscholastic athletics in Pennsylvania," said Senator James J.
 Rhoades (R-29), who chairs the Senate Special Committee on Interscholastic
 Athletics.  "This is a major victory for the rights of the Commonwealth's
 student athletes and their parents."
     The final bill is a product of six months of debate in the General
 Assembly and reflects agreements made with members of the House of
 Representatives and leaders of the PIAA.
     "This is a good bill," Rhoades said.  "It is the product of lengthy
 deliberations in the Senate and House, productive discussions with reformers
 within the PIAA's own leadership, and a clear commitment to complete the
 reforms that the Special Committee recommended in its 1998 report -- reforms
 that will improve interscholastic athletics for all Pennsylvanians."
     "This action brings us much closer to the goal of fair and responsible
 oversight of interscholastic athletics.  This legislation gives the PIAA a
 final chance to carry out the necessary reform, and provides consequences
 should they fail to follow through.  I am pleased that we finally able to
 achieve this victory for student-athletes and their parents," Senator Robert
 C. Jubelirer (R-30) said.
     "Credit goes to some of the leaders in the PIAA who decided it was time to
 cooperate on solutions.  I think the repercussions from the discrimination
 suit that they lost in the Southeast turned the thinking from resistance to
 reform.  If we can bring about the right mix of fairness and common sense in
 the PIAA's decision making, it will help stop the excessive litigation that
 has cost the organization's members and the affected families a lot of money,
 and that has really hurt the interests of kids and too often denied them
 opportunities to participate," he added.
 
     The legislation would:
     * Oversight Council.  Create a seventeen member Interscholastic Athletic
       Oversight Council, composed of four legislators, the Secretary of
       Education and thirteen individuals appointed by the Governor, to monitor
       the PIAA's efforts at reform and issue a final report on the success of
       those reforms within two years.
     * Reforms.  Require the PIAA to complete twelve reforms within two years
       including: expanding its Board of Directors, repealing the restitution
       rule, improving its due process procedures, employing in-house counsel,
       and improving its financial accounting practices.
     * Accountability.  Make the PIAA accountable for completing the reforms by
       directing the Oversight Council to determine whether the organization
       has complied with the reforms in the two-year time frame.  If the
       Council determines that the PIAA has failed to comply, it would have the
       authority to close the organization and designate a successor.
 
     The legislation aims to address problems uncovered within the PIAA during
 a nine-month investigation conducted by the Special Committee in 1998.  The
 Special Committee released a report on November 30, 1998, outlining
 18 specific recommendations to correct serious problems in the PIAA's
 organizational structure, operating policies and financial practices.
     The investigation that led to the final report included seven public
 hearings, testimony from 57 witnesses, the review of over 8,000 pages of
 documents, a financial review conducted by an internationally recognized
 accounting firm, and 79 recommendations from the Special Committee's
 eight advisory committees.
     The final report encouraged the PIAA to clean its own house by undertaking
 reforms on its own and recommended legislation only as a last resort.
 However, after the PIAA failed to reform itself for eighteen months, Rhoades
 and Jubelirer introduced legislation to require the reforms.
     "We would have preferred that the PIAA reform itself," Rhoades said.  "But
 when the PIAA refused to take up the challenge of reform, it was essential for
 us to require reforms through legislative action.  With the passage of this
 important bill, we can all be confident that reform will come to
 interscholastic athletics -- one way or the other."
 
 

SOURCE Senator James J. Rhoades
    HARRISBURG, Pa., Nov. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- State senators advocating for
 sweeping reforms within the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletics Association
 (PIAA) today scored a major victory for the rights of student athletes and
 their parents with the passage of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletics
 Accountability Act.
     The legislation, which now goes to Governor Tom Ridge for his signature,
 directs the newly created Interscholastic Athletics Oversight Council to shut
 down the PIAA in three years if the organization fails to complete twelve key
 reforms.
     "For the first time in its history, the PIAA will be accountable for the
 way it runs interscholastic athletics in Pennsylvania," said Senator James J.
 Rhoades (R-29), who chairs the Senate Special Committee on Interscholastic
 Athletics.  "This is a major victory for the rights of the Commonwealth's
 student athletes and their parents."
     The final bill is a product of six months of debate in the General
 Assembly and reflects agreements made with members of the House of
 Representatives and leaders of the PIAA.
     "This is a good bill," Rhoades said.  "It is the product of lengthy
 deliberations in the Senate and House, productive discussions with reformers
 within the PIAA's own leadership, and a clear commitment to complete the
 reforms that the Special Committee recommended in its 1998 report -- reforms
 that will improve interscholastic athletics for all Pennsylvanians."
     "This action brings us much closer to the goal of fair and responsible
 oversight of interscholastic athletics.  This legislation gives the PIAA a
 final chance to carry out the necessary reform, and provides consequences
 should they fail to follow through.  I am pleased that we finally able to
 achieve this victory for student-athletes and their parents," Senator Robert
 C. Jubelirer (R-30) said.
     "Credit goes to some of the leaders in the PIAA who decided it was time to
 cooperate on solutions.  I think the repercussions from the discrimination
 suit that they lost in the Southeast turned the thinking from resistance to
 reform.  If we can bring about the right mix of fairness and common sense in
 the PIAA's decision making, it will help stop the excessive litigation that
 has cost the organization's members and the affected families a lot of money,
 and that has really hurt the interests of kids and too often denied them
 opportunities to participate," he added.
 
     The legislation would:
     * Oversight Council.  Create a seventeen member Interscholastic Athletic
       Oversight Council, composed of four legislators, the Secretary of
       Education and thirteen individuals appointed by the Governor, to monitor
       the PIAA's efforts at reform and issue a final report on the success of
       those reforms within two years.
     * Reforms.  Require the PIAA to complete twelve reforms within two years
       including: expanding its Board of Directors, repealing the restitution
       rule, improving its due process procedures, employing in-house counsel,
       and improving its financial accounting practices.
     * Accountability.  Make the PIAA accountable for completing the reforms by
       directing the Oversight Council to determine whether the organization
       has complied with the reforms in the two-year time frame.  If the
       Council determines that the PIAA has failed to comply, it would have the
       authority to close the organization and designate a successor.
 
     The legislation aims to address problems uncovered within the PIAA during
 a nine-month investigation conducted by the Special Committee in 1998.  The
 Special Committee released a report on November 30, 1998, outlining
 18 specific recommendations to correct serious problems in the PIAA's
 organizational structure, operating policies and financial practices.
     The investigation that led to the final report included seven public
 hearings, testimony from 57 witnesses, the review of over 8,000 pages of
 documents, a financial review conducted by an internationally recognized
 accounting firm, and 79 recommendations from the Special Committee's
 eight advisory committees.
     The final report encouraged the PIAA to clean its own house by undertaking
 reforms on its own and recommended legislation only as a last resort.
 However, after the PIAA failed to reform itself for eighteen months, Rhoades
 and Jubelirer introduced legislation to require the reforms.
     "We would have preferred that the PIAA reform itself," Rhoades said.  "But
 when the PIAA refused to take up the challenge of reform, it was essential for
 us to require reforms through legislative action.  With the passage of this
 important bill, we can all be confident that reform will come to
 interscholastic athletics -- one way or the other."
 
 SOURCE  Senator James J. Rhoades