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District 13 senator, Kirk, co-sponsors bill that could replace GHSA

By MICHAEL MURRAY

ATLANTA – A bill was recently introduced in the Georgia State Senate which could, potentially, affect high school programs all across the state of Georgia.
Senate Bill 203 (SB 203) seeks to designate a non-profit organization to govern high school athletics in the state of Georgia. If the bill is approved, the new organization would, ostensibly, take the place of the non-profit Georgia High School Association (GHSA), which has been in charge of governing high school sports in Georgia since its inception in 1908.
The GHSA received criticism in March of 2016 after it was determined that the organization had incorrectly positioned the basketball goals used in the 2016 state championship matches.
SB 203 includes provisions for the governance of the proposed non-profit organization and seeks to establish guidelines for member eligibility and bylaws that specifically prohibit recruiting of students for athletic purposes.
The GHSA constitution, which can be found online at www.GHSA.net, currently includes bylaws restricting undue influence and recruiting among Georgia high school athletic programs. The GHSA constitution also dictates terms for determining student-athlete eligibility and defines eligibility violations.
The bill was drafted on Feb. 17, according to www.legis.ga.gov. The bill was presented to the Georgia Senate on Feb. 21.
Georgia Senator, Greg Kirk (R), who presides over the 13th District, is a co-sponsor of the bill. Georgia Senate District 13 encompasses portions of Sumter County and Americus.
The Times-Recorder reached out to Sen. Kirk, requesting a statement on his support of the bill.
In a brief telephone interview, Kirk told the Times-Recorder that there have been multiple complaints about the way that investigations have been conducted lodged against the GHSA in recent years. He stated that the bill’s author, Senator Bruce Thompson (R, District 14), referenced over sixty complaints from districts all over the state when he presented SB 203. Kirk stated that there seems to be a lack of accountability in the GHSA that needs to be addressed.
“We all love sports and our state’s student-athletes but, if there’s something going wrong, we want to be able to investigate it in a way that’s fair, level, and balanced,” he said in a brief telephone interview. “This is a good opportunity to say, ‘If there’s a problem, this is a way that we can address it.’”