IHSA will not attend Friday's state hearing

Staff Writer
Chillicothe Times-Bulletin

The Illinois High School Association announced Monday it will have no official presence at Friday’s Elementary & Secondary Education Committee hearing. The notice came via a video announcement to member schools from Executive Director Marty Hickman after he was informed that the IHSA will be unable to testify or call witnesses during the hearing.

“No one with a sense of fairness would schedule a meeting like this and there is no reason for IHSA supporters to waste their time and money to attend,” said Hickman.

The timing of the hearing, which is scheduled for 4 p.m. Friday at South Shore High School in Chicago, has drawn the ire of IHSA member schools, media like the Chicago Sun-Times, as well as committee member Barbara Wheeler.

In the video statement, Hickman went on to say “the process used by Rep. Chapa LaVia is counter to every principle of fundamental fairness high school students learn when they participate in the interscholastic programs at their school. This process is like teaching students that you can silence your critics by setting up rules that don’t let them have a voice.”

The committee revealed Monday that it will call four witnesses during the hearing, all which appear to be related to catastrophic injuries in high school sports. Last October, the IHSA worked with State Rep. Will Davis and Illinois State Sen. Napolean Harris on “Rocky’s Law”, which requires high schools in Illinois to provide minimum catastrophic insurance coverage to student-athletes. The IHSA facilitated coverage options for schools and monitored member school compliance with the law. The IHSA has independently provided catastrophic insurance coverage for student-athletes competing in postseason IHSA State Series events for several decades.

“It appears that certain members of the committee plan only to provide an audience to individuals who have ever had an axe to grind with the IHSA,” said East Peoria Principal and IHSA Board Vice President Chuck Nagel. “It makes you wonder how these tax dollars could have been better spent. Like my colleagues around the state, I will be in school on Friday afternoon facing real issues and doing my part to help prepare our young people to be successful citizens, something the IHSA has been doing for over 100 years.”

The IHSA has been told that they will be allowed to call witnesses at an unscheduled third hearing.