The Executive Director of the South Dakota High School Activities Association is retiring at the end of the next school year. Wayne Carney has been with the association since 2001, after a coaching career in three state school districts. One of the most contentious issues in his time as executive director was the switching of the girls volleyball and basketball seasons. At one time, girls played basketball at the start of the school year, with volleyball going on in the winter months.
“You know," Carney reflects," it kinda got us in line with the rest of the nation. 46 states that were playing basketball in the traditional basketball season—well, we were one of the four that were not. You know, we had a lawsuit, a threatened lawsuit, to switch—the board switched it automatically without going through the lawsuit. And before we even made the switch, we were in another lawsuit to not switch.
"You know, the judge basically heard it, and ruled on it, and the switch went forward.”
The outgoing Executive Director says one of the major accomplishments of his tenure was greater participation by Native American Administrators. Carney says he thought creating a position on the Activities Association Board would help to heal any wounds and solve future problems. He says Bryan Brewer of Pine Ridge was elected to the first Native American representative position in 2003.
Carney adds, "And I’m talking—that’s the first Native American rep in over a hundred years—right at a hundred years. So, when I came into the office in 2001, there appeared to be, to me, a disconnect between our Native American schools and the rest of our schools. So we established a Native American Advisory Council right away; and this is one of the things that I viewed as a necessity when you’re looking at the equal opportunity, the discrimination, whatever you want to call it, that we really needed a Native American rep.”
Carney says in order to put another position on the Activities Association Board, the group’s constitution had to be changed. The proposal met with about 80 percent approval. Carney’s retirement is set for the end of the next school year.
Carney says there has also been a marked increase in televised activities since he became director, with all championship events appearing live or delayed on television. He announced his retirement plans at the June Activities Association meeting.