COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio High School Athletic Association announced Thursday afternoon unprecedented changes during the COVID-19 pandemic to its tournament financial model for the 2020-21 school year.
It also did not rule out the possibility of levying membership fees at a later date.
The significant changes to the tournaments include the suspension of the regional and state dual team wrestling tournaments for the 2020-21 school year. The 83rd season of the individual state wrestling tournament will continue.
As of this past school year, the OHSAA had a $19 million budget. Former OHSAA executive director Jerry Snodgrass said this past spring the association lost nearly $2 million due to the cancellation of the winter sports tournaments.
"As the membership is aware, approximately 80% of the OHSAA’s revenues come from ticket sales at our tournaments," OHSAA interim executive director Bob Goldring said in a memo to member schools.
"Our inability to conduct state tournaments in boys and girls basketball, individual wrestling and ice hockey last winter; to conduct sectional, district, regional and state tournaments in any of our spring sports, and the prospect of conducting all of our tournaments for the 2020-21 school year with spectator capacity limits of 15% (with no more than 1,500 permitted for outdoor events and 300 for indoor events) has already had a significant impact on the association from a financial standpoint."
Goldring said corporate sponsorship accounts for another 10% of the OHSAA revenue, but those sponsors did not ask for proration in the 2019-20 school year.
"Because they believe so much in education-based athletics programs, we were not asked to refund monies," Goldring said. "They may not be as benevolent moving forward."
The OHSAA board of directors this summer approved several tournament financial measures due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The approval was based on a recommendation from the OHSAA interim executive director's staff following discussions that included the OHSAA finance committee and board of directors along with executive directors from other state high school athletic associations and extensive internal deliberations that were headed by the OHSAA’s finance office.
"Since the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic became a reality for the OHSAA, the association has undergone major modifications to our business practices and overall procedures," Goldring said.
"This has included cuts of not only personnel but also salaries and benefits for full-time staff. We also have explored new, untraditional revenue streams that could prove to be beneficial, but even those are not guaranteed with the status of the world’s economy and no real end in sight for the pandemic."
No team expenses will be paid to member schools participating in 2020-21 OHSAA tournaments. There will also not be football and basketball presale ticket shares/bonuses paid out to member schools as in the past.
Also, bowling tournament lane fees and golf tournament greens fees will not be paid by the OHSAA this school year.
The OHSAA is implementing tournament entry fees including $25 for boys and girls bowling, boys and girls golf, gymnastics, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls tennis, boys and girls track and field and boys and girls swimming and diving.
As OHSAA emerging sports, boys and girls lacrosse will continue to have a $100 fee per gender.
Presale tournament tickets will be available for all sports and will be sold online. All sectional and district tournament tickets will be sold online at $8.00 (fees included).
Goldring said the board of directors will continue to evaluate the OHSAA's financial situation and could decide at a later date to levy membership fees.
The board of directors also determined that it will continue to expend nearly $445,000 in 2020-21 for student catastrophic insurance coverage.
"The Board most likely will continue to authorize flat fees being paid to utilize facilities hosting OHSAA tournaments, the amount of which will be evaluated on a sport-by-sport basis, and opportunities for reduction where reasonable and appropriate will be identified," Goldring said.
Tyler Brooks, OHSAA's director of officiating and sport management, sent an additional memo to athletic directors and wrestling coaches about the suspension of the regional and state dual tournaments.
"It saddens me to relay this information to the wrestling community," Brooks said. "We all know that the dual team tournament provides a unique team environment and atmosphere for our sport that the individual tournament simply cannot. I don’t know what the future holds for the dual team tournament, if and when it could be resumed, or when that determination would be made."
Brooks said he hopes to provide an update to all wrestling schools by the end of next week regarding this upcoming season and how it fits within the Ohio Deparment of Health's orders.
The OHSAA has 815 member high schools and 760 seventh- to eighth-grade schools in the association for this upcoming 2020-21 school year.
The OHSAA represents over 350,000 students competing in 26 sanctioned sports – 13 for boys and 13 for girls.
"We have an unwavering commitment to continue administering some of the best interscholastic athletics tournaments in the nation in 26 sanctioned sports (13 for boys and 13 for girls) and, to the best of our ability, we will continue to honor our tradition of excellence, which has served our member schools for the past 113 years," Goldring said.