Official in controversial swimsuit ruling won't lose certification, ASAA says
The Alaska School Activities Association has decided not to decertify an official who disqualified a Dimond High School swimmer over a swimsuit violation.
ASAA's investigation found the official made the ruling "based upon facts as reasonably and in good faith understood by the official and consistent with the NFHS rule as written and depicted."
The swimmer was disqualified on Sept. 6 after winning a 200-yard medley race. Jill Blackstone, the official who oversaw the race, said the school issued swimsuit showed too much of the swimmer's buttocks.
After the ruling, the Anchorage School District asked ASAA to reverse the disqualification, return the points lost to the swimmer's team, suspend and revise the National Federation of State High School Associations rule on suit coverage. They also asked ASAA to decertify the official.
On Tuesday, Oct. 15 ASAA informed the district they will not decertify Blackstone.
In a statement provided to KTVA Wednesday, Blackstone said:
"I am thankful the Alaska State Activities Association rejected the Anchorage School District’s request for my decertification as unwarranted under the circumstances and rules in place at the time of the disqualification."
The disqualification of the swimmer was reversed on Sept. 10 and the points for the relay were returned to the swimmer's team. At that time ASAA also provided guidance for interpreting the NFHS rules stating, "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."
ASD issued a statement Wednesday saying they were disappointed with the decision.
"The decision clearly does not reflect ASAA’s mission of 'advocating equitable participation and fostering healthy competition for ALL Alaska students," the school district wrote.
Superintendent Deena Bishop said:
“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. Young women should never have to worry about their body image when they are competing in sports. They should only have to focus on their skills and competing in the pool, on the field, or the court. This decision is truly unfortunate and appears to ignore ASAA’s mission of advocating for student athletes."
The district says they will continue working with the ASAA, NFHS and USA Swimming to revise or eliminate the current swimsuit rules.
John Thompson contributed reporting to this story.
Copyright 2019 KTVA. All rights reserved.