Comptroller: TSSAA needs better controls

Comptroller: TSSAA needs better controls

By J.R. Lind

Tennessee’s high-school sports regulator has a “fundamental misconception” of how to operate a nonprofit, the state comptroller’s office said in a recently released audit.

Following a four-year review of the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association, auditors said the TSSAA “has not established written policies and procedures governing daily operations.” In a published rebuttal, the organization said it was “not feasible” to prepare a daily schedule of activities for all of its 19 employees and it argued that it did not have a credit-card use policy because it is more feasible to approve spending on an ad hoc basis.

The team of Comptroller of the Treasury Justin Wilson, however, found this response wanting.

“An effective system of internal controls is the hallmark of a well-managed organization. This is particularly true for a nonprofit organization that receives funds from its members to spend the money for the benefit of these members,” the audit reads. “Management appears to have a fundamental misconception of this most basic responsibility to make reasonable steps to ensure that funds entrusted to TSSAA are adequately protected and used.”

The comptroller’s office also said the TSSAA needs to more broadly comply with the state’s open-meetings law. A 2018 state law prohibits Tennessee public schools from using public funds to join an interscholastic athletics association unless that association complies with the open meetings law. The TSSAA’s legislative council and board of control do follow that standard, but the auditor suggests regional meetings also follow open-meetings requirements because so much of the body’s actual rulemaking is done at that level.

The association said it would comply “where feasible,” though that apparently left the auditors scratching their heads.

“It is unclear when TSSAA management intends to apply the provisions of the Open Meetings Act given that they only agree to comply with the Act when feasible,” auditors wrote.

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