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OHSAA to institute membership fees starting in 2021-22

Area athletic departments are bracing for another unforeseen expense.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association — beginning in the 2021-22 school year — will charge all 820 member high schools a fee of $50 for every sport the school offers.

The decision was approved at a special Board of Directors Meeting held Monday in Columbus after a recommendation from OHSAA Executive Director Doug Ute. This will mark the first time the OHSAA has charged dues to its members.

The smallest amount a school will have to pay is $300 and if a school should offer every sport the OHSAA sponsors, it would be charged $1,300.

Most area schools, however, fall in the middle.

Though the schools are now being charged, the OHSAA is waiving certain fees that were normally assessed for certain sports because of this.

For example, schools were previously charged a greens fee for the golf postseason. Bowling teams were charged a fee for the tournament as well and wrestling had a weight management fee.

All of those are now waived.

Along with those measures, this new income will allow the OHSAA to reinstate student scholarships for the 2021-22 school year, catastrophic insurance coverage continues without a charge to the members and the OHSAA will continue to pay the school’s fees for Arbiter.

Though the dues are set at $50, the OHSAA has reserved the right to eventually increase those. However, the organization has said that the dues will not exceed $100 per sport.

“We will continue to be open and transparent with our member schools about our financial situation,” Ute said.

“If we are able to adjust dues in the future, we will look to do so. I want to sincerely thank all of our school administrators for their work and efforts in helping to provide participation opportunities for our student-athletes during these uncertain times, and we appreciate the support they have given us in continuing to conduct our tournaments.”

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the OHSAA relied on its proceeds from ticket sales, official’s dues and corporate partnerships for its funding. Of that, 80% came from ticket sales.

 “That financial model has not been sustainable, and the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly not helped,” Ute said. “Levying membership dues will give us a steady line of income since many of our other lines are variable, and it will help us build a new, more sustainable revenue model.”

As for area schools, all are members of the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference, which has $400 dues and entry fees for many of the championship events. Schools who are part of the Buckeye 8 or Mid Ohio Valley Leagues are handed additional dues and now the OHSAA.

St. Clairsville will be paying the most to the OHSAA of area schools because it sponsors 21 teams throughout the school year, so it will pay $1,050

St. John Central Academy — a relative newcomer to the OHSAA — is at the $350 mark based on the sports offerings of the current school year.

Other area schools include:

Barnesville $850

Beallsville $550

Bellaire $550

Bridgeport $700

Buckeye $700

Harrison $850

Martins Ferry $800

Monroe $700

River $750

Shadyside $650

Union Local $900

According to OHSAA spokesman Tim Stried, the payments will be collected in the fall and spring and the OHSAA has yet to determine if and what penalties may occur should a school not pay its fees.

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