What is the SDHSAA?


The purpose of the South Dakota High School Activities Association is to direct and coordinate interscholastic activities carried on by the member high schools of South Dakota.

It shall have the duty and obligation to control, coordinate, and direct the
operation of the interscholastic activity programs of its member schools. Among these programs shall be those in athletics, speech, music, student council, publications, and such like or related programs of activities as now or hereafter may be organized among member schools.

It shall also attempt to equalize activity opportunity by standardizing qualifications for participants, coaching and directing procedures, and treatment of visiting teams and participants in connection with activities.

SDHSAA Contribution to Athletics

In the good old days, anybody could play on the high school team, even the coach, principal, or a college athlete on vacation. Age, school status, reason for being in the district, and related factors were nobody’s business. When game brawls and community feuds made conditions bad enough, school administrators awoke to the need for organized action. Since that time, not only in South Dakota, but throughout the nation, state athletic and activities associations have proved their worth. Every student in every high school in the state is now assured that he or she competes under standards that are the same as those that exist in every other high school that voluntarily agrees to be a member of the SDHSAA.

The SDHSAA has not been developed or dominated by any outside individual or group. Rather it has been created and is being expanded by school people because earlier unfavorable experiences have proved it necessary for the welfare of the school program.

The amateur spirit cannot survive pressures which develop when controls are not provided.


The SDHSAA was organized in 1905 for the purpose of managing and fostering high school athletics on a high plane. At that time, a Board of Directors of three members was chosen to administer the affairs of the Association. They were G. E. Muller, Superintendent, Hurley High School; R. L. Kirk, Superintendent, Aberdeen High School; and A. A. McDonald, Superintendent, Sioux Falls High School.

Initial concerns were primarily in track and field. During the ensuing years, it became evident that the SDHSAA should assume the initiative for a well-balanced athletic program to meet the needs of all schools and all students desiring to participate in athletics. In 1923, the Association became a member of the National Federation of State Athletic Associations, which now includes all state associations and several Canadian provinces.

Down through the years, each non-athletic school activity formed its own organization. In 1961, largely through the efforts of the South Dakota High School Principals’ Association, the member schools voted to become an Activities Association. This step merged all of these organizations into one association, which is the present South Dakota High School Activities Association.


All memberships are voluntary. Any high school in the state, whether public, private, parochial, or institutional, if accredited by the South Dakota Division of Elementary and Secondary Education, may become a member of the Association by making formal application that is authorized by its Board of Education and by subscribing to the rules and by-laws of the Association. Membership, once attained, is continuous, provided the local school board enacts the annual resolution authorizing membership, the annual dues paid, and all other requirements are met.

The legislative body of the Association consists of the entire membership which meets once each year. Each member school has one vote whether the voting is done at the annual meeting or by mail ballot.

The executive body is the Board of Directors, which is made up of nine members. Six of these shall be superintendents, principals, or athletic/activities directors of member schools, two shall be board of education members of member schools, and one shall be a Native American representative. The Board of Directors meets at least six times each year and is charged with interpreting the Constitution and By-Laws, organizing and directing tournaments and meets, determining penalties and forfeitures for violations of rules, settling disputes, registering sports officials, establishing the state office, and employing an Executive Director and staff to administer the Association.