On Tuesday, May 20, 2014, the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) appeared before the Illinois General Assembly’s Elementary & Secondary Education Committee during a scheduled hearing at the Capitol Building in Springfield.
A contingent of nearly 100 individuals attended the meeting in support of the IHSA, which included IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman, members of the IHSA Board of Directors, member school Superintendents, Principals and Coaches, members of the IHSA staff and other related constituents.
“I believe it was an educational experience for both sides yesterday,” said IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman. “We have contended all along that the spectacle of the hearing could have been avoided with a phone call to schedule a meeting. Regardless, we appreciate the genuine interest that the committee expressed in learning more about the mission and operations of the IHSA.”
The hearing began at 10:00 a.m., but was moved to a larger room due to the overflow crowd of supporters. The committee debated rescheduling the hearing while options for a larger venue were explored. The hearing reconvened at 11:45 a.m. in a new venue and adjourned at 2:00 p.m. Four witnesses testified regarding a scholastic bowl plagiarism issue, followed by testimony from the IHSA Executive Director for the remainder of the hearing.
“We were disappointed that the individuals who took time off from school and made the trip to Springfield were not able to speak on our behalf,” said Hickman. “However, I believe their presence made a powerful statement. Representative Chapa LaVia suggested forthcoming meetings in Chicago and southern Illinois and we believe those would be prudent. (Salem High School Athletic Director) Scott Steward (who was in attendance Tuesday) has already offered to host the southern Illinois meeting, and we are happy to help facilitate a host for the Chicago meeting as well. Many of the committee’s questions would be bettered answered by our school personnel. They have a voice in our process and should in this one as well.”
Topics of discussion during the hearing included scholastic bowl, tournament profit-sharing, diversity, pensions, and broadcasting rights among others.
A Chicago Sun-Times report that incorrectly stated IHSA salary and employee benefits had increased 21% percent in the last fiscal year was cited during the hearings. The IHSA’s independent auditor confirmed that the actual increase was closer to four (4) percent*. *NOTE: The IHSA’s independent auditing firm confirmed that actual salary and benefit increases were less than four percent from 2011 to 2012. The majority of the increase seen in 2012 is due to the IHSA’s pension liability, which reflects the calculation of the present value of the employees’ lifetime benefits. It should also be noted that in 2012, the audit firm used fiscal year 2012-2013 payroll reports, not the W2 that had been previously used, as the source for the Salaries, Other Compensation, and Employee Benefits line item on the 2012 form 990 tax return. This practice more accurately reflects the Association’s financial reporting of the fiscal year.
“The author of the story reached out to me last week and I informed him that the 21 percent statistic was not correct and that I would get him accurate information,” said Hickman. “I was in the process of traveling from our Badminton State Finals (in Charleston) to our Gymnastics State Finals (in Hinsdale) and wasn’t able to immediately connect with our auditor to verify the actual total. The 21 percent increase was the crux of the story, so I don’t understand why that question was asked so close to the deadline. It certainly provides the appearance that getting the story out in conjunction with these hearings was more important than getting the story correct. I believe that may have been what Representative (Dan) Brady was implying with his comments toward the Illinois Press Association.”
Responding to representatives of the Illinois Press Association and Illinois Broadcasters Association, who testified in support of the bill, Representative Brady said, “I hope we are not here because of what occurred in 2008 with the problems and litigation (during a photo dispute).”
Brady closed by saying, “I really would like to find out the true
reason why many of us are here today with an Association, in my opinion, that has worked very well and has put the best interests of the student-athletes and students ahead of everything else. That comes from a parent of a son, who is disabled. He is not into sports, but if he was, I would encourage him to be a part of the IHSA.”
Additional videos from the hearing can also be seen below: