AHSAA Board returns revenue to schools, debates ‘private school issue’ behind closed doors
By Tim Gayle
Officials with the Alabama High School Athletic Association, at their Wednesday Central Board of Control meeting, voted to return $2 million to the member schools under the AHSAA’s revenue sharing plan.
That was the top news item to come out of a meeting where record numbers in revenue at AHSAA championship venues translated to a record number of dollars being returned to the schools this fall.
One of the major issues that is generating discussion outside of the building, the ongoing debate over what to do with the state’s private schools as a new classification year approaches, was not discussed at the public forum.
The Central Board broke for lunch with four items remaining on its printed agenda: a discussion of an “AISA proposal,” classification, the “Task Force” and the possibility of moving the next Central Board meeting.
When the group returned from lunch, they immediately went into an executive session, barring the public and the media from their discussions over the next 70 minutes. When they emerged from the executive session, the group hurriedly voted to change the next Central Board meeting from Oct. 18 to Nov. 15 and adjourned so a legislative council could start at its scheduled time.
The three missing topics could have been addressed at the executive session, since time is running out if AHSAA officials hope to implement a new method of classifying the private schools for 2018-20.
Those topics include:
“AISA proposal” – While it was never publicly discussed, the proposal reportedly deals with the notion of putting all of the Alabama Independent School Association (AISA) teams in a single AHSAA classification with other private schools currently playing in AHSAA Class 1A, 2A and 3A. AISA officials don’t endorse the idea but it evolved from discussions with two AISA-member schools over the summer who were exploring the possibility of joining the AHSAA ranks.
Abolishing the competition, obviously, would give AHSAA officials more control over decisions involving private school members.
Task Force – The group reportedly is considering a two-year tournament success factor for each team in each team sport based on an accumulation of points. A similar plan used by the Indiana High School Athletic Association since 2012 would award a team points based on its success in area play, regional or sectional play and state tournament play.
In Indiana, for example, a team which accumulates six points moves up one classification for the next two years and does not move down unless it generates three or fewer points. That could mean an ultra-successful private school program such as Montgomery Academy tennis, for example, could find itself competing at the Class 6A or 7A level.
Classification – Until AHSAA officials settle on how to count private school teams (their enrollment figures currently employ a 1.35 multiplier per student while Tennessee, for example, uses 1.8), it’s difficult to anticipate how the private schools will be treated in the upcoming classification that will be debated in November and again in the first month or two of 2018. For now, that topic was limited to private discussion in executive session.
The $2 million from the revenue sharing plan, meanwhile, will have to be divided among schools that participate in football and those that don’t, with the schools in the larger classifications receiving more money than the smaller schools.
The revenue sharing plan that will be mailed out on Oct. 1, executive director Steve Savarese explained, is based on the operating capital of the organization as determined by an accountant ($7.4 million) minus the operating reserve ($3.4 million). The organization returns 50 percent of the remainder to the schools and has now given back $11.8 million to its schools over the past seven years.
Also, for the 25th consecutive year, the athletic association waived dues for its member schools, a savings of more than $83,000 last school year, according to a release from the organization.
“Returning $2 million to our schools through our revenue-sharing plan is certainly important to the financial well-being of our schools,” Savarese said. “We are proud to have now returned almost $14 million to our schools through the revenue sharing plan and the waiving of school dues. I thank our Central Board for its strong leadership, especially the Central Board Finance Committee, and thank our valued corporate partners for their commitment to our member schools, our student-athletes and our educational based programs.”
The financial reports from the various spring championship reports revealed a record amount of revenue (and attendance) in soccer and baseball while softball and outdoor track declined. A number of factors impact revenue, but the lowest generating regional was in Troy and the decline of revenue generated from the state tournament at Lagoon Park should certainly catch the attention of local officials.
The board also voted to approve the recommendations from their respective sports committees. The football committee, for example, approved the use of a running clock in lopsided games, while the basketball committee approved playing boys and girls teams from the same school in back-to-back regional contests and the baseball committee voted to make the third game of a playoff series a home contest for the home team, changing the previous ruling to determine the home team via a coin flip.