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Wednesday, September 27, 2017
THE OSAA: HIDING IN
McKay celebrates tying for fifth in the string orchestra competition of the OSAA Orchestra State competition at Oregon State University in Corvallis on May 11.
Every fall Friday night in Oregon,
high school football players take to the
field while thousands of family mem-
bers and fans filter in to cheer them on.
On Sept. 25, school administrators
will come together in a room in Wilson-
ville and close in on a decision that will
affect most of those athletes and their
The Classification and Districting
Committee of the Oregon Schools Activ-
ities Association could decide to com-
bine five of Salem's public high schools
with three schools in Bend. That would
require travel over a mountain range to
play league games.
It's not a popular idea in Salem.
“Leaving at 1 o’clock, getting home at
1 a.m," testified McKay parent Chris Tar-
ver earlier this year. "That puts a lot of
strain on these kids.”
Every four years leagues and classifi-
cations under the OSAA umbrella are re-
aligned, an event sort of a like a presi-
dential election in its importance to high
One big difference: athletes and par-
ents don't get a vote, at least not directly.
Who are the people who have the pow-
er over Oregon's high school athletics?
We have met the OSAA and it is
Prior to 1918, high school sports in
Oregon were essentially without rules
and without structure.
In the 1910s, Chemawa Indian School’s
football team – coached by William J.
Warner, brother of Pop Warner – played
military teams like the 91st Division of
Camp Lewis, Wash., the Multnomah Ath-
letic Club, Willamette University and
Stanford as well as high school teams
like Salem High, which would later be-
come North Salem.
And there were no state champions.
A group of high schools came togeth-
er in 1918 to form the Oregon State High
School Athletic Association.
“They formed the OSAA ... to set some
baseline standard of how we’re going to
do things,” OSAA Executive Director Pe-
ter Weber said.
The OSAA has grown to a group of 294
member high schools in Oregon –
schools join, and sometimes leave, every
year – that provide an outlet for high
The Dallas team with their second place trophy following the Marist Catholic vs. Dallas OSAA
class 5A championship softball game at Oregon State University in Corvallis on Saturday, June
3, 2017. Marist Catholic won the championship game 12-7. ANNA REED / STATESMAN JOURNAL
school students to participate in athlet-
ics and activities.
The primary function of the non-prof-
it, with headquarters in Wilsonville, is to
enact rules and bring structure in the
form of postseason play.
The leagues essentially operate regu-
lar season play and choose their auto-
matic representatives for the state post-
“What people don’t realize is that
they’re not an association of their own,
but they’re a representation of the
schools,” said Oregon Athletic Coaches
Association executive director Rob
Who pays for this?
“We work off about a $4 million bud-
get every year,” Weber said.
There are three main sources that
fund the OSAA: Admission at state
championship events (about 55 percent
of the budget), membership dues (about
15 percent) and corporate sponsors
(about 15 percent).
To be a full member of the OSAA,
schools pay $750 in dues each year plus
$85 for each OSAA sponsored activity in
Silverton finds new
star running back
Hunter Meissner has become the kind
of physical running back that thrives in
the offense that Silverton High School
likes to run.
The junior fullback rushed for 191
yards and three touchdowns on 25 car-
ries in the Sept. 15 38-22 win against Dal-
The 5-foot-9, 190-pound Meissner has
rushed for 417 yards this season and has
rushed for over 100 yards in each of the
Foxes’ past two games.
which the school competes. The 86 asso-
ciate member schools pay between $100
and $500 per year.
Sprague, for example, pays $2,960 as
it competes in 26 OSAA sanctioned activ-
Out of its budget, the OSAA pays offi-
cials for state championship games,
rental fees for venues for postseason
events, reimbursement to schools for
travel and per diem for meals.
“If there’s an excess," Weber says, "we
have a policy that we hold it for a year to
see how the next year went, then by the
constitution we have to give it back to the
One of the ways the OSAA has given
back the money is paying for new equip-
ment compatible with the Track Wres-
tling website to help run the state wres-
tling tournament and purchasing equip-
ment for athletes through the OSAA
How the reclassification decision
Every four years there is controversy
surrounding the OSAA and it's all based
on one word: Reclassification.
The OSAA's governance is made up of
two main bodies and 10 committees.
The OSAA’s 43-member Delegate As-
sembly is made up of one representative
from each league – they have to be an
athletic director or higher-level adminis-
trator – who are elected by their league’s
leaders, along with representatives of
groups like the OACA.
The purpose of the delegate assembly
is to adopt rules and articles of the OSAA
constitution and elect the executive
The OSAA 13-member Executive
Board is made up of delegate assembly
members who are voted for three-year
terms by the members of their classifi-
cation on the delegate assembly.
The board's purpose is to manage
business and affairs of the association
and create policy.
By the OSAA constitution, since 2002
the executive board has formed a classi-
fication and districting committee every
four years to make recommendations on
how to classify schools and in which
leagues to place them.
The executive board approves or dis-
approves the committee's final recom-
mendation . If it is approved, it is sent to
the delegate assembly and that group
votes to accept or decline it.
“When you have to make these diffi-
cult decisions about reclassification or
even certain amendments to different
rules, there’s going to be losers and win-
ners, but that’s why you have to under-
stand your mission,”said Crosshill Chris-
tian principal Adam Kronberger, a mem-
ber of the OSAA Delegate Assembly.
“The mission is to have as high stu-
dent athlete participation as possible and
to have a level playing field as much as
possible. You’re not doing it to pacify
There are 14 people on the redistrict-
ing committee who represent each class
in multiple ways, representatives of
each of the associated organizations,
plus an ex-officio member and two staff
Since the current classification com-
mittee was formed a year ago, it has held
11 public meetings and produced 19
drafts of its proposals.
"I think that this been a really good ex-
ample of the process working the way
that it’s meant to work," said Executive
Board president Mark Hannah, an ad-
See OSAA, Page 2B
runs in for a
the Dallas vs.
on Sept. 15.
ANNA REED /