Athletic directors from around the state said they will take a more proactive stance on high school athletes' use of dietary supplements. The decision followed a three-day meeting of Arizona Interscholastic Association member schools' representatives Sunday through Tuesday at the Prescott Resort in Prescott.
AIA executive director Harold Slemmer addressed the issue of supplements on Monday before a majority of the state's athletic directors. Slemmer also presented each athletic director with a series of stories that ran in the Tribune Aug. 24. The stories examined the use of dietary supplements by high school athletes as well as the availability, regulation and safety of supplements.
"The AIA is doing a tremendous job of educating us, but the onus is still on individual athletic directors because if we don't follow through with this at our schools nothing's going to happen," said Sister Lynn Winsor, the athletic director at Phoenix Xavier Prep. "This is a problem that has been looming for a long time."
Slemmer said the purpose of this week's meetings was to raise athletic directors' awareness of the use of supplements.
"I definitely learned a lot," Tucson Sahuaro athletic director Sandy Novak said.
Slemmer wants athletic directors to take the information he provided back to their schools and distribute it to coaches, students and parents.
Several athletic directors said they will do just that.
"This isn't just for kids," Round Valley athletic director Willis Haws said. "It's for coaches, parents and ADs, too. We've got ADs out there with a degree in physical education. That's not going to help them understand the chemistry of these supplements or recognize the symptoms of kids who might be using them. I think the AIA should put a little bit more of this information into their teachings so we're all better educated."
Slemmer has already organized an AIA committee to study the supplements issue and the executive board will discuss it again at their next meeting later this month. At that point the board will decide whether to issue a position statement on supplements, recommend a bylaw or commission further study.
Chandler district athletic director John Carlson, an executive board member, said that if the board does recommend a bylaw, it could not be enacted until March when the AIA's legislative council next meets.
The board could also enact emergency legislation if it felt the problem was pressing.
"I think education of our parents, students and community is the biggest thing," Carlson said. "If we can do that maybe we won't even have to set up all these rules."