Senate wants oversight, budget info of GHSA

The Georgia High School Association would be moved back under the oversight of the General Assembly and have to make public annual financial reports under a bill passed unanimously Thursday by the state Senate.

Senate Bill 288 would bar any public high school from joining an organization that collects fees to organize interscholastic sports events if that group does not annually publish a comprehensive financial report, including an accounting of assets, liabilities, income and operating expenses. A floor amendment approved by members would also resurrect a state GHSA overview committee.

The amendment's author, state Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, said the committee could correct what she called a lack of diversity on the GHSA's 58-member governing board, including few African-Americans and only four women. Unterman said the committee could also ensure the organization's funds would be fairly distributed to smaller schools and events.

State Sen. Charlie Bethel, R-Dalton, sponsored the overall bill. GHSA Executive Director Ralph Swearngin, whose organization sponsors the state football championships held annually in the Georgia Dome, has testified against it and said his group is already open about its finances.

The bill now goes to the House for consideration.