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HVA forms athletic oversight council
Booster clubs now held more accountable for $’s

Given Tennessee General Assembly’s mandate requiring high school athletic booster clubs demonstrate financial accountability and be nonprofit, Hardin Valley Academy has gone one step further.

Knox County’s newest high school has established an athletic council, one governing body over all HVA athletics with a charter — no boosters clubs with separate fund-raising powers.

Although each sport will have its own representation, “They won’t be dealing with the money,” said George Ashe, HVA athletics director. “Say the wrestling team needs new wrestling mats, that representative will come to the athletic council board [and say], ‘We are in desperate need of new mats and they’re very expensive.’ Then the board would look at those needs that were brought to them and prioritize.

“All of the money, then, will fall under this one umbrella group, which will have line-item accounts for all those sports,” Ashe added. “They will be audited. … so that everybody is clear that everything was above board.”

As of July 1, all school support groups in Tennessee, such as booster clubs and foundations raising money for their schools, must be nonprofit organizations with a charter, bylaws, officers and a bank accounts — all for accountability.

The HVA board is headed by Gary Rowcliffe, president, among a seven-member body.

“The great thing about it is they all come from different representations,” Ashe said. “It’s not made up of four or five football people or basketball people or baseball people. It’s not heavy in one direction.”

Another key function of the board as noted by Ashe “is to help with large fund-raising efforts.

“All of your sports are used to doing small fund-raisers, but [HVA’s] idea is to really spearhead some big-bang fund-raising that would really generate some serious funds — not donut sales and things like that,” he added. “Maybe to put on or host a golf [tournament] or a 5-K road race.”

While Farragut High School will retain a “booster club” support system, FHS athletics director/assistant principal Dwayne Simmons said the changes have been “heading in that direction for years. … I think everybody should be accountable when it comes to funds."

Russ Oaks, spokesman for Knox County Schools, said the Tennessee School Boards Association “promulgated a draft policy and we took it and amended slightly for our use. It was approved by [Knox County Board of Education].” The board approved the “slightly” amended version that was made official “on final reading” in April.

“The way the policy is set up, the superintendent is allowed to have a representative to approve those for the board,” Oaks added. “And so we'll post those so everybody will know whatever group it is is a recognized school support organization.

“And what they have to do is submit a written report annually ... to show what their financial activity has been for the year.”


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