OHSAA committed to tournaments despite cuts and uncertainties


By Scott Halasz - shalasz@aimmediamidwest.com



COLUMBUS — Despite facing financial concerns and a general uncertainty about sports due to COVID-19, the Ohio High School Athletic Association plans to hold tournaments for all 26 sports this school year.

The OHSAA — which receives 80 percent of its revenue from post-season tournament ticket sales — announced recently that it will will make cuts in other areas due to a significant decrease in revenue from the cancellation of tournaments earlier this year and greatly reduced attendance permitted at upcoming tournaments.

The OHSAA Board of Directors recently approved the cuts to the OHSAA office and each of the six district athletic boards, which coordinate the sectional and district tournaments in several sports. OHSAA member schools have not paid annual membership dues since 1998, but those fees could be collected in the future, according to a release from the association.

“Our mission remains the same – to serve our member schools and enrich interscholastic opportunities for students,” said Bob Goldring, former OHSAA interim executive director. “That means we have an unwavering commitment to continue administering some of the best interscholastic athletics tournaments in the nation and honor our tradition of excellence. But the prospect of conducting all of our tournaments for the 2020-21 school year with spectator capacity limits of 15 percent, 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. 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. 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.”

The OHSAA is a private, non-profit organization and does not receive any tax dollars. The other 20 percent of its revenue comes from corporate partners and officials dues. The OHSAA has 815 member high schools and approximately 760 member 7th and 8th grade schools. The OHSAA currently has 18 full-time staff members.

One casualty of the pandemic is the indefinite suspension of the dual team wrestling tournament. The individual wrestling tournament, which will be in its 83rd year this year, will proceed as planned.

Some “unprecedented changes” to the tournament financial model are forthcoming as well, Goldring said.

— Standard ticket pricing: All sectional and district tournament tickets will be sold online for $8. It’s not anticipated that tickets for any tournaments will be sold at the gate.

— Presale ticket shares/bonuses: Football and basketball presale ticket shares/bonuses will not be paid out to member schools participating in 2020-­21 OHSAA tournaments.

— Team tournament expenses: No team expenses will be paid to member schools participating in 2020-­21 OHSAA tournaments.

— Tournament entry fees: $25 tournament entry fees will be incorporated 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.

· Other fees: Bowling tournament lane fees and golf tournament greens fees will not be paid by the OHSAA in 2020­-21.

Other recent changes made by the OHSAA include:

— Reduction of three full-time staff positions and 20-percent pay cut for senior staff members, along with suspension of retirement contributions for all staff members. In addition, all part-time staff and intern positions have been eliminated.

— Suspension of several OHSAA publications, including OHSAA Magazine, the school directory, year in review, and pocket calendar.

— Suspension of the OHSAA Radio Network.

— Suspension of video production for annual public service announcements.

— Printing the OHSAA Handbook in-house and continue printing many state tournament programs in-house.

By Scott Halasz

shalasz@aimmediamidwest.com

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.