In 2014, due to a number of complaints regarding the GHSA, the State of Georgia created a state oversight committee. Rep. Jay Roberts (R-Ocilla) and Sen. Charlie Bethel (R-Dalton) are the co-chairmen of this committee. The GHSA is a private organization and the influence on the GHSA by the state is currently minimal. But it is interesting that the state has finally decided to get involved in GHSA matters.
When a student transfers from one GHSA member school to another (private or public), that student is ineligible for GHSA varsity sports if there is not a bona-fide move of the student’s family. So what this means is that if the student didn’t move with his entire family and transfers to another school he can’t play sports for a year. The intent of this rule is clear. They don’t want students changing schools on a whim for sports reasons (either being recruited to the student team shopping). On the surface, this seems reasonable and justifiable.
But what in the case of financial situations where the student had to change schools ? That’s where a “hardship” comes in. The GHSA constitution provides for these situations. The student can apply for a “hardship” and ask for the GHSA executive director to waive this restriction. The executive director can grant the hardship making the student immediately eligible, or he can ask for more information and request the student attend a “hardship hearing”.
These “hardship hearings” occur either once or twice a month. The student, coach, athletic director, parents will present their hardship case to four members of the executive committee and either be granted eligibility or denied.
This decision will be given directly to the athletic director with no explanation of a decision. It’s either “Yes” or “No”.
This process is completely subjective and is up to the discretion of the board at that time.
If denied eligibility, the member school can appeal the decision and present their case again at another hardship hearing (in some cases a month later).
For each of these hearing the member school must pay for the hearing.
If the student is denied a second time, the member school can appeal one more time. This time the appeal must be before the entire executive committee in Macon, GA. The member school must pay for the expenses of this appeal including lodging and travel expenses of all of the members, which is approximately $5,000.
In 2013-2014, the GHSA made $95,380 from hearings (an increase from $57,565 in 2012-2013).
If you are curious about the GHSA finances, the state of Georgia now requires the GHSA to publish their finances.
Here is the June 2014 audit report: GHSA Audit Report June 2014
Gary Phillips is the current executive director of the GHSA. Mr. Phillips is in charge of hardship rulings and interpretation of the by-laws among other things at the GHSA. His salary for 2014 was $132,000 plus $6,810 in travel expenses.
His contact information is:
706-647-7473, ext. 21
First things first….the GHSA bylaws and constitution for the 2014-2015 school year can be found here:
The following information was taken from the GHSA website on January 5th. 2015 and is only copied here to give context and understanding on who the GHSA is:
In 1903, Dr. Joseph S. Stewart came to the University of Georgia to work with the schools of the State. In 1904, in cooperation with the schoolmen in west Georgia, there was organized at Temple, Georgia, what has developed into the present GHSA. The present program has been developed over the years by secondary school administrators who realize the need for regulations in the constantly growing area of high school activities.
The GHSA is a voluntary organization composed of over 400 public and private high schools. It strives to promote good sportsmanship and a cooperative spirit among its member schools. It endeavors to maintain high standards so that each pupil competing in each school is on the same basis. In the field of athletics its interest is the safety of the participants; it is on this principle that its athletic rules are based.
The GHSA operates under a Constitution and By-Laws which outlines the scope and purpose of the Association. It contains the standards of eligibility to be met by high school pupils for attaining the privilege of participation in interschool contests, and rules controlling the participation among schools. By adoption of the Constitution and By-Laws through its membership, member schools have by their initiative acted to operate and discipline their interscholastic activities and contests.
Schools are divided in classification according to size so that schools will have an opportunity to compete for honors among schools of their own size. The state is divided into regions in each classification. Each region is operated by the schools in the region. Some events are held as statewide events open to all schools. Some events are held on elimination basis with the region competing in state events in the various classifications.
The GHSA provides services to its member schools in the organization and administration of Region and State events in the following: BOYS: Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Football, Golf, Lacrosse, Riflery, Soccer, Swimming, Tennis, Track, Wrestling – GIRLS: Basketball, Cheerleading (co-ed), Cross Country, Golf, Gymnastics, Lacrosse, Riflery, Fast Pitch Softball, Soccer, Swimming, Tennis, Track, Volleyball – LITERARY: Dramatic Interpretation, Essay, Extemporaneous Speaking, One Act Plays, Quartet, Spelling, Trio, Vocal Solo.
The GHSA sets standards for the registration, training, and evaluation of officials in all competitive activities. Rule books are distributed and rules clinics for coaches and officials are held throughout the state by GHSA-trained instructors. In football and basketball, more than 75 trained evaluators circulate around the state weekly to assess the work of the officials.
The State Office of the GHSA is located in Thomaston, Georgia. Information such as bulletins, materials, rules publications and press releases are available from this office. Any request for information should be directed to the GHSA, P. O. Box 271, Thomaston, Georgia, 30286. Telephone: 706-647-7473.
The GHSA is a member of the National Federation of State High School Associations – an organization of State High School Associations united to solve problems common to such organizations and to secure the benefit of cooperative research and action.
GHSA STATE OFFICERS:
President: Glenn White
Vice-President: Lisa Moore Williams
Executive Director: Gary Phillips
Assistant Executive Director: Jay Russell
Director of Media Relations: Steve Figueroa
Associate Director: Denis Tallini
Associate Director: Tommy Whittle
Associate Director: Carror Wright
Associate Director: Ernie Yarbrough
Business Manager: Robin Bullington
Dec 10, 2014 – Thomaston, Ga –
Junior high school student, Liam Dahlberg, of Lambert High School was denied GHSA basketball eligibility at his appeals hearing yesterday. Dahlberg attended Lambert in 9th grade but transferred to Greater Atlanta Christian for his sophomore year. He was ineligible to play varsity basketball that year due to the GHSA transfer rules since his family did not move. His family stated that they decided to transfer back for his Junior year to his home public school, Lambert High School, due to the extreme difficulty in commuting to Greater Atlanta Christian (GAC). Lambert is 0.5 miles away from their home, compared to 20 miles for GAC. The family had lived in the same house for 10 years and Dahlberg attended high school at Lambert for his 9th grade year and was simply returning to this same school for his junior year. Once again, because of the transfer rules, Dahlberg was initially denied eligibility. Lambert High School appealed this decision and was granted a hardship hearing.
This first hearing took place on November 11, 2014. According to the family, they presented their case to the hardship board. The family stated that the board was understanding of the predicament the family was in when trying to commute 20 miles to school and even refused to accept financial documents from the family, indicating that “they were not needed.” However, the board denied the hardship. An explanation was never given to the family.
An appeal was filed and another hearing was granted since the board did not accept the family’s documentation. This appeals hearing occurred on December 9, 2014. The chairman of the committee, Nathan Turner, is the athletic director of North Forsyth High School – a school in the same region and rival to Lambert High School. The family, once again, presented their case to the board. Dahlberg’s father explained how the excessive driving to GAC was impacting the family and his job. However the board once again apparently did not find this as a sufficient enough reason to grant eligibility. The message sent to the family simply said, “Denied.”
The family attempted to reach out to Gary Philips, the GHSA executive director for an explanation but only received the following reply: “Sir…Under GHSA by laws only the member school may seek appeals to Hardship ruling . Parents maynot appeal directly to the association.
Because of the ruling, Dahlberg will be ineligible for 2 years of his high school basketball career.