‘They have lost the public trust’: State Senator Chris Elliott plans legislative action after controversy between AHSAA and Spanish Fort High School soccer

Published: May. 3, 2022 at 4:31 PM CDT
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SPANISH FORT, Ala. (WALA) -Last week, the AHSAA disqualified both the Spanish Fort High School boys and girls soccer teams as they prepared for the playoffs. The ruling came after another school questioned the eligibility of one of the players on the boys team who moved from another state earlier this year. It’s a decision that still isn’t sitting right with parents

“My daughter was crushed and everything they worked hard for all year was taken from them unjustly,” said Randy White who has a daughter on the soccer team.

It’s also not sitting well with State Senator Chris Elliott.

“We have eligibility debacles that are impacting our student-athletes and are unfortunately spilling over to impact other student-athletes who never had an eligibility issue,” said Elliott.

Now Elliott plans to go through the legislature to make sure things like this don’t happen again in the future.

“If we’re continuing to have these problems then they have a programmatic issue within their association they need to fix,” added Elliott. “They haven’t done it, and it’s time for the legislature to step in.”

One thing he will be looking at is rules interpretation -- like the bona fide transfer rule that led to the disqualification of the Spanish Fort teams. It centered on one question: whether all principal family members lived together. The student in question hadn’t lived with his siblings in two years until he moved to Spanish Fort.

“It’s our understanding this rule has never been applied to siblings,” said White.

“We’re going to have to get into some of the rule making and determine whether or not this needs to be a public body truly instead of a private body,” said Elliott.

The legislature isn’t scheduled to meet again until next year but the plan is to take the time to explore all options to improve things for student-athletes.

“They have lost the public trust and we’ve got to find a way to get that back so our student-athletes feel like they’re being treated fairly,” added Elliott.

“We just want to see reform and we want to see things get better for the future,” said White.

Elliott did also mention they could look at audit requirements for the AHSAA as it relates to public funds such as money from ticket sales and any fines that are issued. We reached out to the AHSAA but have not heard back.

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