IHSA defends its organization before House panel - FOX 32 News Chicago

IHSA defends its organization before House panel

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The Illinois not-for-profit group that hosts prep activities from basketball to chess has defended its financial records before a panel of lawmakers. Representatives of the Illinois High School Association testified during a House committee hearing on Tuesday.

When the South Side's Mount. Carmel beat suburban Lake Zurich to claim the premier Class 7-A championship last November, it was the grand finale of a football season that brought big bucks to the IHSA.

Thousands of boys had participated from more than 800 taxpayer-supported public school districts, often in taxpayer-built stadiums. However, the people who run IHSA insist they're a private group funded by ticket sales and corporate sponsorships.

“Our organization does not charge entry fees, does not charge dues. As a matter of fact, we gave back and shared more than $2.7 million dollars with schools from those gate receipts that we collect,” said IHSA’s Marty Hickman.

Hickman defended IHSA's right to keep some of its internal finances and procedures secret.

Critics, though, complain Illinois schools should be getting millions of dollars more from the IHSA, including a share of its income from Wilson Sporting Goods and other corporate sponsors. Critics also complained about an unexplained 21% increase last year in salaries and other benefits for IHSA's 25 full time employees.

On Tuesday, DuPage County's State Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia finally got the face-to-face public hearing with the IHSA she's long requested, though not the answers she's been seeking.

“But they deal with 861 of our school districts. I don't know one other organization in the state that charges the amount of money at the door that they do, and the issues that happen within our school districts, that we don't have any collaboration with,” said Rep. Chapa LaVia.

Republicans questioned why a non-government group with positive results should go through scrutiny from legislators.

The resolution is HR895.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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