The governing body over high school sports and extracurricular activities plans to abandon its lawsuit against the state of Utah and the Utah Board of Education.
The Utah High School Activities Association, or UHSAA, confirmed Thursday that its board of trustees had voted to dismiss its lawsuit challenging
In a prepared statement, UHSAA Executive Director Rob Cuff said the trustees also discussed their commitment to collaborating with lawmakers and state school board members.
“Future meetings will be used to determine the best and most productive ways to address concerns,” Cuff said. “The UHSAA legislative committee will be involved in developing a plan for the future.”
UHSAA is composed of both private and public schools, which pay membership dues to participate in association-sponsored events. School representatives also serve on the association’s leadership boards.
Because the association is not a public entity, Utah lawmakers are not able to directly impose requirements on its structure and operations.
Instead, HB413 prohibits public schools from participating in UHSAA unless the association trims its governing board from 32 members to 15, complies with the Open and Public Meetings Act and Government Records Access Management Act, and allows its decisions on athlete transfers and conference alignment to be appealed to a panel selected by the Utah Board of Education.
Failure to comply with those terms would require the state’s public schools — the bulk of UHSAA membership — to leave the association. Other school-related private associations are not subject to the state’s public meetings and records laws.
UHSAA Assistant Director Jonathan Oglesby said the organization would not comment beyond Cuff’s statement. But an unattributed paragraph in the association’s confirmation stated that its energy and focus is “providing education-based activities for students in the state of Utah.”
The Legislature’s approval of HB413 followed the adoption and rescission of a controversial policy by the Utah Board of Education requiring the loosening of athlete transfer rules.
Under Utah law, students are able to enroll at any school with available capacity. But UHSAA imposes restrictions on athletic eligibility once a student’s status on a particular team has been established.
The school board’s policy, like HB413, would have prohibited public schools from participating in UHSAA unless the association created an appellate body for transfer and alignment decisions and allowed sub-varsity athletes to transfer at will. It was met with near-unanimous opposition from the education and athletics communities, resulting in an expiration of the policy before it took effect.
In a prepared statement, school board spokeswoman Emilie Wheeler said the board is pleased UHSAA elected to drop its lawsuit.
“We look forward to continuing in a cooperative relationship with UHSAA and working toward facilitating activities that help students succeed,” she said.