By Linda Dillman
Sports can be big business at the professional and collegiate level, but at the high school and middle school levels, the fiscal margin between revenue and expenses is often slim.
Athletic directors tap into their creative side and booster organizations to cover rising costs, let alone pay for facility upgrades and renovations.
At Canal Winchester Schools, the tab alone for transporting middle and high school athletes to and from games during the 2016-17 school year was $107,120 according to a June 18 school board report by Athletic Director Pat Durbin.
“There’s a trend of an increase of our transportation costs,” said Durbin. “In 2014-15, it was $70,000. For 2016-17, it was $107,000. That’s a 65 percent increase in our transportation costs. I don’t expect that to go down. In two years, we’re going into a new league and we’re going to be doing a lot more traveling.”
The officiating costs for home games, meets and matches for the same year was $52,162; equipment for the same period was $54,634 and supplies—including $6,388 for drug testing, $4,912 for awards and $7,136 for a golf invitational—were $48,107.
The district cost for 52 paid high school coaches, coupled with 26 middle school coaches was $229,980 for 18 sports including football; cheerleading; boys and girls soccer, golf, tennis, baseball, and track; wrestling; volleyball and cross-country. This count did not include 12 volunteer coaches.
The biggest slice of the pie was $42,914 for football coaches. The smallest expenditure was $3,228 per coach for each tennis team. Facility managers were paid a total of $26,196 and facility supervisors received a total of $4,368 in compensation.
There were 1,103 pay-to-participate athletes in 2017-18 that paid a total of $220,600 for one or more sports. The PTP fees—$9,200—for 12 high school athletes and 34 middle school athletes were waived due to participation in a third sport.
“With transportation and coaches stipends, it’s roughly $388,000” said Durbin.
Pay-to-participate offsets about $220,000 of that. The board of education is making up about $166,000.
The biggest source of direct revenue came from ticket sales.
“Approximately 50 percent of the revenue is coming from football,” said Durbin, “and then it’s spread out among the other sports.”
Nearly $97,800 in total revenue came from gate receipts from nine sports—football, $48,107; boys basketball, $18,567; boys soccer, $7,951; girls soccer, $5,807; girls basketball, $5,621; wrestling, $4,992; volleyball, $4,494; track, $1,509 and baseball, $750.
Other combined revenue sources—a craft show, baseball sponsorship banners, weight room advertising sponsorship, scorer table advertising and middle school/Dietz Road signage sponsorship—netted $46,500.
“We just secured a three-year, $5,000 per year that they’re (sponsor) going to pay $15,000 up front to have their name put on the stadium,” said Durbin. “Then, after three years, open that back up for another sponsor. We now have a new scorer’s table and instead of just four sponsors, we now have 35 sponsors. We raised enough money to pay for that scorer’s table. There’s a lot of real estate out there that wasn’t being utilized to generate funds.”
Durbin said sponsorship receipts go back into the equipment fund in order to benefit all athletes.
Since 2012, the number of athletes increased by 239. Last school year, there were 23 more athletes than the previous year.
As expected, the number of athletes participating in fall middle and high school sports was much higher than in winter or spring. In 2017-18, there were 595 fall athletes. In winter, there were 251 and 338 in the spring.
“The total number of athletes is rising,” said Durbin. “I don’t see that trend changing.”
Highlights of Durbin’s list of athletic department accomplishments since he was hired include a re-alignment of the Parent Booster Club, a $72,000 pay-off of the turf in the Mike Locke Stadium, new speaker system for the stadium, a refurbished middle school track, ticket pre-sale program, data-driven decisions, seasonal coaches meetings, three new tennis courts and a re-aligned gymnasium to maximize sponsors and students.
“I’m confident, given the budget now and the partnership with you all, we’re going to be able to do things like a new locker room inside our football stadium,” Durbin said.