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Our View: IHSA leaves us in the dark

Published: Friday, March 21, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT

The Illinois High School Association long has held that it has its member schools’ best interests in mind.

Many times, it appears it does.

But the state athletic organization also wants its membership, the majority of which are public high schools supported by public funds, to take its word while claiming ownership of all of the state’s high school sporting events.

That’s going too far. At least one lawmaker agrees.

Illinois HR 895, from state Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, D-Aurora, aims to take some of the IHSA’s power away and give it back to our local high schools.

As a nonprofit organization, the IHSA has to file a Form 990 with generic revenue numbers on it, but its contracts are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act. And it isn’t offering that information – on anything from pay-per-view webcast deals to contracts with equipment manufacturers – to the public.

Chapa LaVia also wants to examine the IHSA’s claim of exclusive webcast rights to playoff games.

The organization says it can decide who can broadcast what games and then charge whatever fee it chooses for the broadcast rights. Her resolution calls that claim “contrary to the public policy of the state of Illinois.” She’s right.

Let the schools decide. Only the IHSA can benefit from locking down the webcast of playoff games in all sports and charging the public nearly $10 to watch any event.

For its part, the IHSA had little to say about the resolution, much like its private contracts.

“We have no idea what concerns the Representative might have, because she has not contacted the Association,” the organization wrote in a press release about the easily accessible and understandable resolution.

It’s time for the IHSA to open its books and start serving its public and private schools in an appropriate fashion. Until someone forces the organization to do that, it would prefer to leave you in the dark.

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