Vetoed | W.Va. Gov. Rejects WVSSAC Audit

More than 300 proposed laws passed the Legislature this session. Only one has been vetoed by the Governor, and it has a direct impact on athletics funding.
Published: Mar. 31, 2023 at 7:32 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - More than 300 proposed laws passed the Legislature this session. Only one has been vetoed by Gov. Jim Justice, and it has a direct impact on funding for school athletics.

“When we have an entity that’s providing some of those services for your kids, and we can’t go in and see how they’re using the way you support them, there’s a problem with that,” said Sen. Eric Tarr, R-Putnam.

The proposal, Senate Bill 667, would have allowed the Legislative Auditor to examine the revenues, the expenditures and performance of the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission -- better known as the WVSSAC.

Delegates narrowly passed the proposal 49 to 43.

Senators then agreed with the House 28 to 5.

That was before Justice vetoed the measure Wednesday. His veto message called the proposal “government overreach,” saying the WVSSAC is comprised of volunteers and that to require it, “to undergo audits by the Legislative Auditor would be to treat this private, non-profit corporation as if it were a state agency.”

WVSSAC Director Bernie Dolan agrees.

“We don’t think that politics should be involved in athletics,” he said.

The director told WSAZ’s Curtis Johnson that membership dues paid with by schools with your tax dollars are no longer part of its funding formula, but admission proceeds collected at playoff games still paid to the Commission.

Tarr says those proceeds are public funds as determined by state law.

“Why don’t they want to show how they’re used?” Tarr said. “That should be a red flag in itself.”

“Well, I disagree with him. If he would look at -- it’s the state Auditor’s rules that we’re following,” Dolan said. “We have opened up the books. Go look at the audit. I think that’s what, you know, everything else, we have a board of directors, who answers to our member schools as do we. And, so we are a private organization and that’s who we’re supposed to answer to, is to our member schools.”

Dolan provided WSAZ with a copy of its most recent financial audit. It contained more than 30 pages of financial information.

Tarr contends a much deeper look would examine the WVSSAC’s performance and measure the value of the money it collects.