The chairman of the legislative committee that has the power to stop implementation of new high school athletic eligibility rules has no idea if the panel will flex its muscle on the issue. Representative George Eichhorn, a Republican from Stanhope, is chairman of the Legislative Rules Review Committee, the panel that will review the Board of Education’s new policy.

Eichhorn says the issue will come up in the committee’s April meeting. Before that, a bill could be passed in the legislature to knock down the rule. Eichhorn isn’t sure what the mood of lawmakers is on this issue. Eichhorn says unless there’s a public outcry — and he hasn’t heard one to this point — it’s “quite likely” that the committee will let the new athletic eligibility rule go through. “I haven’t heard that much discussion about it,” he says.

A Senate subcommittee did pass a bill that would have kept the status quo, which lets students participate in athletics if they pass at least four classes. But that bill is now dead for the year because it did not win the approval of the Senate Education Committee yesterday.

Even if lawmakers were to draft and pass another bill that would undo the Board of Education’s decision to require student athletes to pass all their classes, Governor Tom Vilsack has vowed to reject it.

Last week, Vilsack said, “A substantial percentage of Iowans believe, as I believe, that failure should not be the standard in Iowa.” Vilsack said kids who are failing in class shouldn’t have the “privilege” of representing their community and their school in athletic competition.