Though its lobbyist called it "unfortunate," officials with the Minnesota State High School League on Thursday generally welcomed a legislative audit of their organization, which oversees athletics at more than 500 member schools.
The audit, requested by state Rep. Bob Dettmer, is expected to focus on student eligibility, a topic that draws considerable public attention.
"If there is a question about some of the rules and somebody wants to look at it, that's fine," said Dave Stead, league executive director, at Thursday's board of directors meeting. "We have always been open about everything."
Dettmer, a former longtime wrestling coach at Forest Lake High School, requested the audit earlier this year after being made aware that the league had not been audited since 1998. The Office of the Legislative Auditor approved the request on March 23.
Attorneys Roger Aronson, the league's lobbyist, and Patrick Kelly, the league's legal counsel, gave feedback to the league board at its regular meeting in Brooklyn Center.
"This was unfortunate," Aronson said. "It's like when the doctor says, 'Come in for your full physical.' "
He added an audit is "not a negative thing at all. We've always had an open stance. We'll do it and we'll do very well."
Kelly said: "I welcome reviews, as long as there is not a political agenda. It makes us better."
He added, "Eligibility is a tough issue. What is fair? What is due process?"
Dettmer, a Republican from Forest Lake, told the Star Tribune two weeks ago that he has "no ax to grind, and I've always had a good relationship with the league."
A background paper compiled by the auditor's office said the focus would be on the "transparency of league actions regarding student eligibility." It's expected to be finished next year.
"One, I don't know what they're looking at, and two, I don't know why Rep. Dettmer has an interest," Stead said. "But when there are eligibility concerns, there's always an interest of some kind."
League board action
The league will move the boys' basketball tournament to its traditional spot as the final winter season tournament in 2017, taking place March 22-25. The girls' basketball tournament will be March 14-18 at multiple venues.
The board also approved a policy requiring photo identification cards for officials and monetary penalties for schools hiring nonregistered officials for varsity contests.
Staff writer Jim Paulsen contributed to this report.