OKLAHOMA CITY — Coaches and other school representatives will be under scrutiny by the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association for criticizing contest officials starting this season.
The policy, adopted at its June meeting, gives the governing body for high school athletics the power starting in 2014-15 to suspend a coach or school official for comments critical of officiating made either to the press, through broadcast, or public forums which could include social media.
Muskogee athletic director Garrett Davis said he received a memo on the issue Wednesday.
“Basically we can now get punished and it can be warning or suspension depending on the circumstances,” he said. “I see this as press, radio, social media, you name it. I think they want to reel certain people in that have issues with it.”
“Until somebody does it and then they enforce it, then we’ll see. Obviously they won’t publicly enforce it, they’d privately but you know how that stuff leaks out.”
Up to now, the association has merely made recommendations to the schools to take action, said OSSAA executive secretary Ed Sheakley. Now, he said, those cases brought to the OSSAA’s attention would be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. He noted that already, colleges and professional sports have similar authority.
“We just need to remember that at the end of the day, coaches have bad days, officials have bad days and over the course of a game it all levels out,” he said. “Both are trying to do the best job they can. Making the criticism public is not something we should condone.”
One such example occurred locally last season in Hilldale’s 42-41 loss to Locust Grove that ultimately cost his team the District 3A-7 championship.
Kirkhart described the officiating then as “the biggest joke I’ve seen in my life,” adding that it was difficult “to explain to our players.”