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State Rep. Whitt pursues AHSAA accountability in aftermath of Oakwood Adventist controversy

The Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) came under fire this past weekend after it denied the Oakwood Adventist Academy varsity boys’ basketball team’s request to reschedule their Class 1A Northeast Regional Semi-Finals game.

The school sought to move its game to a later time slot due to the scheduled time conflicting with the team’s religious observance of the Sabbath.

The association’s failure to accommodate Oakwood’s scheduling request, an ask which was agreed upon by the affected teams, resulted in the school being forced to forfeit its game and end its historic season. Rather than compete in the game for an opportunity to advance in the tournament, the team’s leadership opted to adhere to the guiding principles of its Christian faith.

Earlier this week, Gov. Kay Ivey penned a letter to the AHSAA demanding answers over its decision to deny the school’s request.

Thursday, Yellowhammer News learned that a legislative effort is underway to bring transparency to the AHSAA’s operations.

State Rep. Andy Whitt (R-Harvest) is drafting a bill in coordination with fellow legislators to ensure the AHSAA is held to a standard of transparency that is not presently required.

“The AHSAA receives substantial public dollars each year in the form of dues from member schools, fines levied on athletic programs, gate receipts from school-sponsored events, and other sources,” Whitt said in a statement to Yellowhammer News. “It is time for the taxpayers, parents, students, and public schools that fund the AHSAA to receive a full portrait of how those dollars are being spent, used, and utilized.”

AHSAA membership is mandatory for schools that wish to compete in athletics on an accredited statewide level. However, no checks and balances are in place to ensure the association is utilizing public funding in an efficient manner, according to Whitt.

Whitt advised that if the AHSAA is conducting its operations justly, the association should welcome a public audit of its financial records.

“It is time to let the sun shine on the internal operations of the AHSAA,” added Whitt. “If the AHSAA administrators are confident that they are spending taxpayer funds properly and carrying out their mission in a fair and impartial manner, they should not fear annual public audits and a hint of accountability.”

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL

Mecca Musick is the editor-in-chief of 256 Today

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