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Illinois Government Watchdog v. IHSA Public Records Case Goes To State's Highest Court

Katie Finlon

An Illinois watchdog group takes a case against the Illinois High School Association to the state's highest court Tuesday. That’s regarding whether IHSA is subject to the state’s Freedom of Information Act.

The Better Government Association tried to ask IHSA for documents in 2014 under public records regulations. That request included public relations employment documents and information about sponsorships with companies like Gatorade and Nike.

IHSA refused to comply, saying it’s not a public entity subject to Illinois public records laws. The watchdog group disagreed and sued IHSA for those documents. So far, courts ruled functions of the high school sports governing body are not exclusively performed by the government and thus not subject to FOIA.

Andy Shaw is president and CEO for the Better Government Association. He says when IHSA was sued in 2002, they argued they can’t be sued because they’re a “local public entity.” The court opinion from that 2002 case found IHSA was not a public entity and could be sued. 

“Now that we want information from them, they claim they’re not a public body,” Shaw said. “We think they can’t have it both ways.”

Shaw says IHSA is “being hypocritical and disingenuous, and we would like the highest court in the state to tell them that and force them to give us the records we’re entitled to.”

IHSA declined additional comment before the hearing.