The Ohio High School Athletic Association won’t be sharing any tournament revenue with schools or reimbursing expenses this school year and is making a host of other changes and cuts due to declining revenues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The association also announced in a press release on Saturday it is raising tournament ticket prices and conducting all ticket sales online this year.
The OHSAA is a private non-profit organization and collects 80 percent of its revenue from ticket sales to postseason events. The other 20 percent comes from corporate sponsorships and partnerships and officials dues.
The pandemic has already had a big impact on the OHSAA’s tournament revenue. The association canceled the remainder of its winter sports tournaments in late March and canceled spring sports the following month.
Revenue prospects for this fall and winter’s tournaments look slim. An order issued by the Ohio Department of Health limits capacity at stadiums and gymnasiums to 15 percent; stadiums have a maximum capacity of 1,500 while gyms have a maximum capacity of 300.
The OHSAA is increasing ticket prices for sectional and district tournaments to $8. Tickets will be sold online; the association said it doesn’t foresee tickets being sold at the gate at any postseason event.
In addition, schools usually earn a percentage of all presale football and basketball postseason tickets sold. The OHSAA will keep all revenue this year and won’t share any with participating schools.
The OHSAA is also not going to reimburse any tournament expenses schools incur this school year, including green fees for golf tournaments and lane fees at bowling tournaments.
The association has 815 member high schools and 760 member middle schools. It said in the release it may charge schools membership dues in the near future. It hasn’t charged membership dues since 1998.
The OHSAA’s board of directors recently approved the changes. The association notified member schools of the changes late last week.
“Our mission remains the same: to serve our member schools and enrich interscholastic opportunities for students,” OHSAA interim director Bob Goldring said in the release. “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 …has already had a significant impact on the association from a financial standpoint.”
The OHSAA cut three positions at its office earlier this year and imposed a 20 percent pay cut for senior staff members, along with the suspension of retirement contributions for all state members. All part-time staff and intern positions were also eliminated.
The association has also ceased production of all in-house publications (including its OHSAA magazine) and video production of its annual public service announcements. It also has suspended the OHSAA Radio Network, which produced broadcasts of state semifinals and finals in several sports.
“Since the 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.”
The association also canceled its state team dual wrestling tournament this year; the state individual wrestling tournament will be held as normal.
“We need to make some unprecedented changes to our tournament financial model during the 2020-21 school year in order to ensure that we can continue to provide the overall outstanding services that our membership expects and to make certain that our programs continue to complement each participant’s educational experience,” Goldring said.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.