MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Ethics Commission ruled today that it would not violate the state’s new ethics law for high school coaches to accept free passes when they accompany athletes to sports events where they are being recruited by a state university.
There was no debate by the commission before it voted 4-0 to approve the advisory opinion drafted by the agency’s legal counsel, Hugh Evans III.
Before casting her vote, commission vice chair Josephine Venable of Tallassee said she did not view the passes as “a thing of value.”
The opinion had been sought by the University of Alabama System and the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, although it will also cover other NCAA Division I schools in the state.
Michael Spearing, counsel for UA, said after the meeting that the university was pleased the issue was settled.
“We’re grateful the commission gave us some clarification on that,” he said. “It’s obviously an important issue for the university.”
Spearing said the issue was redflagged as university attorneys began examining the impact of the new ethics law.
James Sumner, director of the Ethics Commission, said earlier the new ethics law, approved during a December 2010 special legislative session, did not specifically address the issues raised by UA.