Hope O’Dell & Hannah Smith
Division 3, News Writing
This year the football team received uniforms that cost more than $15,000. The tennis team’s uniforms were $1,200. It may be perceived that some sports organizations receive more money than others; however, there are a multitude of factors that are not always recognized.
As another school year begins, a new budget is issued to the school to outline the year’s predicted athletic expenses. These costs can consist of anything, ranging from transportation to the annually required reconditioning of football gear.
Once the budget has been approved and athletic programs start receiving new equipment, it is perceived that the financial distribution is uneven. In reality, the athletic department has money coming in from both the MPS administration and the Booster Club, so what the money is used for depends on the source it was received from.
“Booster club pays for all uniforms and the Athletic Office prioritizes officials, facility rentals, and transportation,” athletic director Eric Albright said.
An annual budget is granted to the athletic department based on predicted costs throughout the school year. The request is presented to the administration by the athletic director and principal in the spring of the year prior, Albright said.
Robert Cooper, Associate Superintendent of Finance, Facilities, & Operations, said the school board approves the overall budget of the school district, which would include the money for athletics at Midland High.
“Typically the board does not make a decision on each individual budget item but rather considers the budget as a whole,” Cooper said.
One thing that is always a large expense presented to the school board is the cost of busing for every sports program at every level. Transportation takes up more than a quarter of the $125,000 given to the Athletic Office, Albright said. It is the largest expense that the Athletic Office is obligated to pay, but Albright said it’s an important part of the athletic program.
“Transportation is a main priority,” Albright said. “I am guaranteeing to and from transportation for all sports teams this year.”
A transportation guarantee is a new development this year, because last year some teams didn’t get buses for all of their sporting events, or they only had a bus to the event and would have to find a ride home.
Eric Krause, boys’ varsity basketball coach, chose to cut down on bus use, and had his players carpool instead.
“We chose to drive because we know how much of a financial crunch we’re in,” Krause said.
The money that would be spent on boys’ basketball buses does not go into the boys’ basketball account, it stays in the Athletic Department’s budget, Krause said.
Transportation is just one of the many contracted services that the Athletic Office pays for, and it takes up a majority of the budget.
“The bulk of all spending goes into contracted services,” Albright said. “Contracted services are paying someone else to do something for you.”
Contracted services include transportation, facility rental, entry fees, event workers, and officials.
With contracted services taking up more than 75 percent of the Athletic Office’s budget, it becomes the Booster Club’s responsibility to help coaches buy new uniforms and requested equipment. The Booster Club’s charter (found on chemics.net) states the mission of the club, “The Midland High School Athletic Booster Club (MHS ABC) is dedicated to the voluntary support of athletes and their activities that comprise the Midland High School Athletic Program.”
Sarah Hills, President of the Booster Club, said that the Booster Club splits up its money between buying uniforms for teams whose turn it is in the 5 year uniform rotation and coach’s requests.
“What we earn for one year is what we have to spend as a budget for the following year,” Hills said. “Coaches can submit requests that will help their teams. And then we propose an amount to the executive committee to try and fulfill as many of the requests as we can.”
She added that a lot of factors go into which coaches get their requests granted, and it’s really about how many athletes it can benefit.
“We take a lot of things into consideration,” Hills said. “There isn’t really a matrix we use. It’s just basically what have we purchased in the past, and how we can make sure we allocate a little bit to each sport every year. There might be a couple years where a sport doesn’t ask for anything, so if they come in with a request it might get moved to the top. But in the end it depends on how much money we have to spend, how many requests we can fulfill while still helping the majority of athletes.”
Along with providing some programs with equipment from requests, the Booster Club also provides a way for teams to raise additional funds by providing Booster Bash tickets for teams to sell. For each ticket sold, $3 goes back to the sports team that sold it.
The outside funding that is raised by each sports organization is put into an account that is monitored by Albright and the coach of that particular team.
Albright said he advises each coach to have a purchase item in mind with the money in the account to avoid a ton of money being stored in the account.
A few years ago the boys and girls basketball programs went in together to pay for a new shooting machine, Krause said.
Pam Gray, Treasurer of the Booster Club, said that she knows it may seem as though some sports get more money than others, but it is a misconception.
“I think there is a perception that some teams receive a higher percentage of Athletic Booster Club funding than others; however, that is not the case,” Gray said.
Gray said the only reason it may seem that certain sports, like football for example, are getting more money is because they have a larger roster, so they have the opportunity to sell more Booster Bash tickets.
“At times, teams receive private donations that are used to purchase items that appear to be funded by either the athletic program or the Athletic Booster Club, but are not,” Gray said.
Hills said that the Booster Club gives each team $50 initially, and then $2 per player, so that would be another reason it may seem that some sports get more money, because they have more players.
Some sports also receive donations from community members and grants.
“The school board officially acknowledges all gifts and grants given to the district,” Cooper said. “If the gift has a value of greater than $5,000 they take official action and accept the gift.”
Both Hills and Albright said that the majority of sports teams fundraise on their own, and some sports may raise more than others.
“Hockey and football are the most expensive programs per athlete,” Albright said. “So they fundraise the most outside of what they are given.”
Albright said that hockey pays for the majority of their ice time, because that can be a costly expense.
So although there has been a long-standing perception that some sports are given more money than others, that is because each team could have money coming from multiple sources, including how much they fundraise for themselves.
In addition, sports like football inquire annual updates to helmets and pads in order to stay up to date with legal procedures.
“Things are totally different than when I first started coaching, “Krause said. Now I treat it like anything we want to purchase, we have to raise the money ourselves, because the schools are in a financial crunch. The only other option is the school doesn’t’ have sports, so we have to try to do things on our own.”