State Takeover Sought of AR Activities Assn.

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – An Arkansas lawmaker is pushing for a state takeover of the Arkansas Activities Association (AAA).

It’s the body that governs things like high school sports and bands.

State Senator Jeremy Hutchinson (R-Little Rock) says high school activities are too important for there to be a lack of oversight, but some fear the consequences of the state getting involved.

The AAA is no stranger to controversy — whether it’s a vacated championship or disqualified players — AAA’s rules — and the consequences for breaking them have brought heartache to communities across Arkansas.

“I wouldn’t dare criticize a particular decision because I don’t know all the facts but that’s part of the problem is a lot of people don’t know the facts,” Hutchinson says and he’s working on legislation to change that.

“I think it serves everybody’s interest to open that process up and let people see behind the curtain and see why decisions are being made,” he continues.

Currently the AAA is made up of 525 member schools grouped into nine activity districts. The districts vote on proposed rule changes and elect the board of directors.

Hutchinson’s plan would make the AAA a state commission, the board appointed by the governor, and leaders of the State House and Senate.

jim withrow, football coach, sylvan hills high school:

“I’m sure they’ve got good ideas about what we’re doing but you know they don’t work in this environment, they don’t teach or coach in this environment,” says Jim Withrow, head football coach at Sylvan Hills High School.

Withrow, who also teaches history, worries about the impact of high school activities being governed by political appointees.

“We’ve got guys that are here every single day that know what’s going on. We don’t have to worry about somebody being appointed that, quite frankly, doesn’t really understand what we’re doing,” he adds.

Hutchinson says making AAA a state commission would subject it to more scrutiny, including public comment sessions and legislative review. Lance Taylor, the executive director of AAA called the association the most democratic in the State of Arkansas and said its current makeup is working.

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