Last Friday, OSBA hosted its annual Sports Law Workshop in a virtual format. Thanks to all of the school staff who attended the workshop and to all of the experts who shared their time and excellent information.

The day started with a sit-down conversation with Jerry Snodgrass and Steve Craig at the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA). Jerry and Steve gave an overview of the state’s handling of high school sports in the ramp up to the school building closures, and also discussed plans for sports this summer and in the next school year. They answered questions from the attendees for almost two hours. They also shared a guidance document prepared by the National Federation of State High School Associations which made recommendations for state associations when developing policies to accompany the resumption of school sports.

The next speaker was Christian M. Williams, Esq., from Pepple & Waggoner, Ltd., who Chris reviewed some of the most critical legal issues facing school athletic programs. Chris tackled COVID-19 related legal issues such as supplemental contracts and waivers, student codes of conduct, transportation and testing. He then reviewed recent case law involving students, including cases on sexual harassment, transgender athletes, equal protection cases involving sex and race discrimination, hazing and transfer and eligibility.

Pamela A. Leist, from Ennis Britton Co., L.P.A., spoke next on effectively managing booster groups. Pam shared information on the importance, legal makeup and requirements for booster groups. She also discussed the legal requirements for groups, and shared best practices for districts as they work with groups largely composed of parent volunteers. Other topics covered included managing booster group funds, formal accounting practices and tax consequences of certain types of fundraising. She finished up with some case law on the potential for Title IX implications when districts accept booster funds.

The last two speakers were Barrington Huntley, assistant director of outreach and strategic partnerships, and Christa Palmer, associate director of high school review, with the National Collegiate Athletic Administration (NCAA). Barrington and Christa walked attendees through the changes NCAA has made to ensure that athletes affected by school building closures will not lose their eligibility for college sports. They discussed NCAA’s COVID-19 automatic waiver, which includes flexibility on issues such as how grade point averages are affected by pass/fail classes, ACT and SAT testing and core course requirements. Finally, Christa and Barrington walked attendees through some situations demonstrating how the waiver can work.

If you’re sorry you missed all of this critical and timely information, don’t lose heart. The workshop was recorded and will be available on demand on OSBA’s website soon. Please visit OSBA’s on-demand learning page to find registration information. 

The staff of OSBA’s division of legal services will continue to seek out and share information about these and other legal issues affecting Ohio’s public school athletic departments. Please contact us at (855) 672-2529 or (855) OSBA-LAW. We’d be happy to provide you with guidance and resources.

Posted by Jennifer A. Hardin on 6/29/2020