OHSAA to charge membership dues in attempt to solve revenue woes

OHSAA's plan for a six-game football season

The OHSAA announced Tuesday it will charge membership dues for the first time.

Beginning this year, schools will pay $50 per sport in which they participate.

That cost will range from $300 for schools that participate in only the minimum six sports to $1,300 for schools that participate in the maximum of 26 (baseball; boys basketball; girls basketball; boys bowling; girls bowling; boys cross country; girls cross country; field hockey; football; boys golf; girls golf; gymnastics; ice hockey; boys lacrosse; girls lacrosse; boys soccer; softball; girls soccer; boys swimming & diving; girls swimming & diving; boys tennis; girls tennis; boys track & field; girls track & field; volleyball, and wrestling).

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With dues being instituted, teams could still face fines as punishment for violating OHSAA bylaws or regulations or for noncompliance with tournament deadlines and requirements, but there will be no tournament entry fees, bowling lineage fees, golf green fees or wrestling weight management fees.

The move was approved by the OHSAA board of directors in a 9-0 vote Monday after discussions with member school administrators in April.

OHSAA director Doug Ute said in a statement the move was necessary to establish a more sustainable, consistent source of revenue for the organization after it suffered heavy losses over the past year and a half because o the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We traditionally have relied on tournament ticket sales for about 80 percent of our revenue,” Ute said. “That financial model has not been sustainable, and the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly not helped.

“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. That model, which will help ensure our long-term sustainability, will be a combination of a wider variety of income streams – including these dues – and continued better management of our expenses.”

In a memo sent to member schools, the OHSAA said its revenue had been trending in the wrong direction since 2014, including net losses in 2018 and ’19 before the pandemic caused spring sports and multiple winter championships to be canceled in the first half of 2020.

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