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SDPB Radio Coverage of the South Dakota Legislature. See all coverage and find links to audio and video streams live from the Capitol at www.sdpb.org/statehouse

SDHSAA's Director Meets With Lawmakers

The South Dakota High School Activities Association is under public scrutiny over information revealed at last weeks meeting and lawmakers want to understand why. Activities Association Executive Director Wayne Carney took questions about open records, the budget, and scheduling state championships.

Republican State Senator Al Novstrup says he's pleased with the meeting with high school Activity Association staff. He says it was important to sit down together and gather information.

"They interact with our schools and the schools are publically supported by the taxpayer’s dollars. So it’s good for us to know what their goals are, what they’re planning to accomplish," Senator Novstrup says.

There was confusion over open records and if the High School Activities Association is a public or private organization.  Executive Director Wayne Carney says he tries to communicate so schools and the public know about meetings and agendas.

"All of our meetings are open and they’re held up at the Activities Association building. Probably 2-3 days prior the meetings, I send another mass email to the Superintendants, to the principals, to the athletic and activities directors. Reminding them of the time of the meeting, the place and an updated agenda if it need be" Carney says.

Carney says state law does not define the public versus private issue.  Lindsey Riter-Rapp is a legal consultant for the SDHSAA. She says nothing illegal has taken place but claims the law has questionable wording.

"We’ve strived to operate in a manor consistent with state law. However, if you look at the definitions provided in that statute or those statutes that govern the open meeting laws and the public records. I don’t know that we technically qualify under those provisions," Riter-Rapp says.

This week's questions are being raised from last week's meeting where a new set of guidelines were not made public prior to the meeting.  The guidelines are to help the board decide which venues will host state championships or other events. Carney acknowledges people were upset at the meeting. 

"Some of the communities obviously, the people who were at the meeting, took it very personal, which obviously was not the intent. The intent was just to let them know we have some concerns here, we would like to address them. It certainly did not eliminate anyone from any state tournament hosting in the future," Carney says.

Carney says these guidelines are not a specific set of rules or minimum requirements, which he feels was the perception. No action was taken at the meeting but some lawmakers hint at filing legislation to further define the public role of the activities association.

Nate Wek is currently the sports content producer and sports and rec beat reporter for South Dakota Public Broadcasting. He is a graduate of South Dakota State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism Broadcasting and a minor in Leadership. From 2010-2013 Nate was the Director of Gameday Media for the Sioux Falls Storm (Indoor Football League) football team. He also spent 2012 and 2013 as the News and Sports Director of KSDJ Radio in Brookings, SD. Nate, his wife Sarah, and two kids Braxan and Jordy, live in Canton, SD.