The 10-member executive board of the Arizona Interscholastic Association asked the AIA to craft a response to a Friday article that was posted in The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com.
Below is the statement from the AIA.
The Arizona Interscholastic Association, Inc. (AIA) as a 501c3 non-profit corporation is very proud of its governance structure, management history and transparency. As a private 501c3 corporation, the association complies with all IRS guidelines in submitting the informational 990 return and, as a gold standard, engages an outside auditing firm in filing its year-end return. The AIA has also made great strides in its 100th anniversary to promote a process of inclusion on committees and the Executive Board. As a country, we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The AIA's historic decision to enact, as a bylaw, the diversity policy of the past three years, suggests tremendous leadership on behalf of the staff, Executive Board and Legislative Council.
The AIA, through the legislative council process (the legislative council consists of 45 members from AIA member schools and Arizona school board members), passed the diversity policy bylaw on March 7, 2014. The diversity policy was taken to the legislative council by the Executive Board to ensure that the direction of inclusion and diversity in the makeup of AIA committees (including but not limited to Sports Advisory Committees, Activities Committees, numerous Ad-hoc Committees and the AIA Executive Board) reflects the student population the AIA serves throughout the state of Arizona. Prior to the bylaw being passed, a question arose as to the veracity and accountability of the policy. Now a bylaw of the AIA, the corporate philosophy of making sound decisions on behalf of the students we serve, now includes a process allowing member schools to nominate individuals that will then be taken forward by the conference committees and then selected by the Executive Board. Prior to this, the conference committees did not seek or solicit an inclusive process of the membership for members of committees. Members were usually selected from within the nine member conference committees. While some exceptions occurred, member schools raised a concern about the lack of diversity, an inability to seek an opportunity to serve, and the opportunity for inclusion that reflects the students the AIA serves. Some are now using this new bylaw to call into question the manner in which the governing structure of the AIA operates and possibly have additional government oversight or other structure in place.
The recent article by Mr. Bordow of April 11, 2014, AIA governing body must be accountable to someone, identifies concerns regarding transparency, leadership and oversight of the AIA. With regard to transparency, as a private 501c3 corporation, the AIA publishes, per IRS guidelines, an extensive informational return that illuminates the programs, services and costs during the AIA's course of business. Mr. Bordow reflected on many of the revenues in his article, and requests the ability to see contractual agreements between the AIA and other entities providing goods, services, facilities, and sponsorship. Fundamental in many of these agreements is the ability to create a relationship between two private companies that benefits the AIA and in turn promotes the corporation, such as in a sponsorship agreement. Indeed, the AIA, azcentral and MaxPreps, as part of their agreement to share information from AIA to azcentral, have a confidentiality clause. This is due to the proprietary information that must be held at some level of confidentiality. This is the case with the agreement with Mr. Bordow's employer, azcentral. In the case of facilities, the AIA would encourage Mr. Bordow to seek, through the proper channels, any agreement with public entities (state universities and/or high school districts) the terms sheets and contracts for the AIA to use those facilities. Finally, the AIA’s annual budget, approved by the AIA Executive Board, is posted on the AIA website at (http://www.aiaonline.org/story?id=59).
Unfortunately, some are questioning the historic and positive development of inclusion within the structure of the AIA for purposes of calling into question the leadership of the AIA, the Executive Board and staff. A member of the Legislative Council, Doug Meyer, told council members during the March 7 Legislative Council meeting "It's not democratic when a board chooses its own members." But Mr. Meyer exercised his vote in favor of amending the constitution to include the diversity policy, now a bylaw. Article 6.1, the diversity bylaw, amending the AIA Constitution was passed by a two-thirds majority vote in open session after several weeks of discussion with the conference committees and the membership of the AIA.
The AIA, in its 100th Anniversary has moved forward with inclusion and opportunities for members of the community to serve, participate and be heard. In 2013 an open call was made to create an Insight Panel comprised of parents, coaches, business leaders and students. More than 100,000 emails were sent out inviting AIA activity participants to spread the news to their parents, friends and families and it was posted on AIA websites and promoted in social media. The AIA’s Executive Board has engaged the AIA Insight Panel, a community based panel, to seek counsel and insight as to how the AIA operates and can improve. The Insight Panel also includes a Student Body which provides the students a voice into the workings and operations of the AIA. The students the AIA serve are now represented through a transparent and structured process of inclusion.
While we cannot be certain of the reason, it is worth noting that the Illinois High School Association, which Mr. Bordow referenced in his story, has an ongoing issue with the Illinois newspaper association over media rights. Ultimately it was decided in a federal court case (Wisconsin Athletic Association and American HiFi, Inc. v. Gannett Co., Inc. and Wisconsin Newspaper Association). While differences in high school athletic associations vary, one thing is certain, all of them strive to serve their students and decision-making is done by the association members.
The AIA continues to serve as it has in the past 100 years, even with an ever-changing landscape, with integrity, transparency and a focus on those we serve: our schools and students.