MONTGOMERY, AL – The Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) Central Board of Control approved and the Legislative Council ratified a change in the AHSAA Amateur Rule as well as two other proposals Wednesday at its Spring Meeting held at the AHSAA Office. The Central Board also approved payment of the 2017-18 Revenue Share stipend, between $1.4 and $1.8 million, to member schools in June. “This is good news for our member schools,” said AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese. “That will bring the total payout to our member schools to approximately $14 million through the Revenue Share distribution plan since its inception.” The Central Board also approved an increase in pay for contest officials in all sports. A complete breakdown of the new pay scale can be found at the officials’ link at www.ahsaa.com. Among the proposals approved by the Central Board and ratified by the AHSAA Legislative Council was proposal 28 submitted by a number of member schools including Opelika, Piedmont, Spanish Fort, Decatur, Helena, Saint James, Hamilton and Hartselle high schools outlining a change in the current Amateur Rule. The vote was 27-5. While the Amateur Rule’s restrictions remain the same, the change gives more flexibility to the Central Board in considering the consequences resulting from a violation. Out-going Central Board president John Hardin, the retiring principal at Hackleburg High School, said he has always welcomed the member schools’ input when rules or by-laws are ratified or changed. “For 98 years our schools have been successful in governing the AHSAA through a well- thought-out democratic process,” said Hardin. “That process has been the foundation of why the AHSAA is such an outstanding organization. I have been humbled and honored to have the opportunity to serve our member schools on the Central Board. I am very proud to have been able to be a part of that process.” Hardin has served the last two years as president of the Central Board. Current vice president Keith Bender, the athletic director for the Oneonta City Schools, was elected at Wednesday’s meeting to become the new president with the term beginning in July. Mike Welsh, principal of Spring Garden High School, was also elected as vice president. AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese echoed Hardin’s sentiments. “The AHSAA’s member schools and Central Board are constantly reviewing and improving the AHSAA by-laws, rules and regulations through this tried-and-true democratic process,” Savarese said. “We have full confidence in our member schools’ ability to govern themselves as they have shown so aptly since the AHSAA’s formation in 1921.” Savarese presented Hardin with a plaque of appreciation during the Board meeting. “John Hardin is one of the kindest men and finest gentlemen I have ever known,” said Savarese. “His leadership and service has been outstanding. While we wish him well in his retirement, we want him to know we will certainly miss him.” The 32-member Legislative Council voted on 29 legislative proposals with three receiving the required minimum two-thirds (22) votes to be ratified. Two other proposals were tabled for more study. Proposal 1 submitted by Mountain Brook High School was passed allowing high school junior-varsity and freshman football teams to begin regular season play on the Monday (August 26) following Zero Week. Member school varsity teams have the option of playing a pre-season jamboree contest or regular-season contest during Zero Week (Aug. 22-23-24). In the past, all other teams could not play a regular-season game until after Week 1. Proposal 8, submitted by Vestavia Hills High School, changed the AHSAA Divorce Rule by adding a section dealing with parents who never married. The by-law change will now allow parents who were never married the opportunity to be granted a one-time custody exemption as long as both parents are listed on a state-issued birth certificate and all other eligibility requirements are met. Savarese also announced the upcoming retirement of AHSAA office manager Sandy Logan, who will be completing her 42 nd year with the AHSAA on June 13. She plans to retire on June 30. Savarese also announced that AHSAA Director of Officials Mark Jones, who submitted his plans to retire in June, will be remaining in that position after all. Jones, citing some unfinished business concerning officiating, convinced him to remain in the position. Savarese praised the long tenure of Mrs. Logan and also told the Board he was elated at Jones’ decision. “He has done an outstanding job in that position, and we are glad he has elected to stay.” The Central Board also approved a request by Savarese to establish a new position that will serve as an assistant to the Director of Officials. The Central Board approved the financial reports for regional and state bowling, super sectional, dual and state wrestling, indoor track, regional and state basketball and the 2018 state football playoff audit. Special guest at Wednesday’s Central Board meeting was Alabama State Representative Kyle South of District 16. Other Central Board action included: -- Approved the 2019-2020 required forms and release dates. -- Approved the 2019-2020 Calendar of Events, the 2019-2020 Sports Calendar and the AHSAA Five-Year Calendar. -- Heard a report from Assistant Director Kim Vickers on behalf of the AHSAA Medical Advisory Meeting last February. -- Heard a report on Fall/Winter Sports Committees from Assistant Director Denise Ainsworth. -- Approved the 2019 NFHS 100 th Anniversary Summer Meeting Expenses at Indianapolis (IN) this summer. -- Approved the budget for the Elite 100 Girls’ and Boys’ Basketball Showcase being planned by AHSADCA Director Jamie Lee for this coming June. -- Approved the adoption (for the 2020-2021 school year) of new Wilson balls for basketball, soccer and volleyball. -- Approved the use of a stenographer for all appeals and approved the audio/video recording of all board meetings and posting of board meeting minutes on the AHSAA member site. -- Heard a report concerning the AHSADCA Summer Conference and All-Star Sports Week from Lee. -- Set the dates for future meetings as follows: July 24, 2019; Oct. 16, 2019; and Jan. 22, 2019.