ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - The Alaska Schools Activities Association said it will not decertify the official who made the disqualification decision in a Dimond High School swimsuit controversy that received national attention.
According to ASAA, "While ASAA concluded (on September 10th) that the official did not notify the coach in compliance with Rule 3.3 Art. 2, ASAA determined that the official’s disqualification decision was (1) based upon facts as reasonably and in good faith understood by the official and (2) consistent with the NFHS rule as written and depicted."
On Sept. 6, 2019, swimmer Breckynn Willis was disqualified because swimming official Jill Blackstone deemed the way Willis was wearing her team-issued uniform to violate the rules.
On Sept. 10, 2019, ASAA reversed the disqualification and at that same time, returned all the points lost due to the disqualification to the swimmer’s team.
On the same day, ASAA also addressed the NFHS suit coverage rule. According to ASAA, "student-athletes wearing school-issued uniforms will be presumed to be in compliance with the rule and, further, that the presumption is overcome based on intentional conduct by the student-athlete."
ASAA says it chose not to decertify Blackstone because it felt her "decision did not constitute 'gross or repetitive violations of [the applicable fairness and integrity standards]' which is the standard for decertification."
The next ASAA board meeting will take place on Dec. 9 and 10.
The Anchorage School District, which previously asked for Blackstone's decertification, said that it was "disappointed" with ASAA's decision, which it says leaves the door open for female swimmers to be disqualified for clothing choices.
“The underlying message from this decision is that even when wearing a team-issued uniform, female athletes still need to worry about what they are wearing or risk being disqualified," said ASD Superintendent Deen Bishop in a written statement. "Young women should never have to worry about their body image when they are competing in sports."
In the statement, ASD says that their investigation revealed that Blackstone's disqualification of Willis was unfair. Nonetheless, the district says that it will continue to advocate for changes in swimwear regulations with ASAA, as well as with the National Federation of High Schools and USA Swimming.
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