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Illinois differs with some states on prep finances

Published: Tuesday, July 8, 2014 9:06 a.m. CDT

CHICAGO – The groups that oversee prep sports in many states make their records public, while the Illinois High School Association has resisted calls for greater transparency in its handling of extracurricular activities and the millions of dollars they generate each year.

The Chicago Sun-Times examined the transparency levels for the high school governing bodies in the six most populous U.S. states plus four others near Illinois and found that seven of those groups are either subject to open-records laws or voluntarily respond to requests.

In other states such as Florida and Pennsylvania, the private nonprofit groups that oversee prep sports give the public access to contracts, payments made to vendors and other records, operating much like government agencies.

Similarly, the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association said it isn’t subject to open-records laws but complies anyway.

“When I get a Freedom of Information Act request, I can’t remember a time I didn’t provide the information - even though we are not required to,” said David Anderson, executive director of the group.

The equivalent group in Texas is part of the University of Texas, so it is subject to open-records laws.

But the IHSA has said that, while it doesn’t believe it is subject to Illinois’ Freedom of Information Act, it provides some financial information on its website.

And IHSA Director Marty Hickman has wondered why his organization, which he said is paying its bills and effectively handling its finances, is now subject to legislative scrutiny.

A second General Assembly committee hearing on the IHSA scheduled for today has been canceled.

The IHSA generated $10.8 million in revenue in 2012-13, according to the records it does make available. The money came from ticket sales to sports events, sponsorships, royalties, broadcast rights and other activities.

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