The Minnesota State High School League is certainly not immune to the affects of the coronavirus.
Not the disease, necessarily, but the financial impact of shutting down high school sports.
On Friday, March 13, 2020, when the girls state basketball tournament came to a screeching halt, that was the beginning of a long downward spiral for the MSHSL — and everyone seated on that ride.
Six months later, the situation has only worsened for the organization and all participating schools in the State of Minnesota.
The total budgeted revenue for the 2019-2020 school year was $9,167,422. Of the total, $5,702,400 was generated from tournaments. That number flat-lined pretty fast.
With the fiscal year ending July 31 each year, the 2020-2021 school year budget shows zero dollars anticipated from tournaments. That’s a huge loss for the organization, indicating high school sports is big money in Minnesota.
Along with the loss of tournament revenue, add $727,122 from corporate partnerships and $865,000 from television fees to that deficit. Combined, all three revenue categories equal $6,516,022 that the MSHSL anticipates they won’t be seeing this school year. That equals more than 71% of the MSHSL total revenue budget — gone.
Along with tournament revenues dropping to zero, so did the $3,345,150 in expense. Given these tournament revenue and expense figures, the profit from running tournaments appears to be $3,170,872.
How has the organization adapted to the sharp nosedive in revenue?
Most notable, they have reduced budgeted salaries from $2.16 million to $1.9 million. MSHSL Assistant Director Rich Matter shared, “Two staff members were laid off permanently in July. An additional staff member retired in August and the position is not being replaced. Three full time employee positions have been eliminated since March.” With those staff reductions, going from 22.5 full-time equivalents to 19.5, this explains why the salary budget dropped $260,000. With 19.5 employees left on staff at MSHSL, the annual average wage amounts to $97,436 per employee.
The Board of Directors, currently consisting of 19 members, was receiving a combined $100,000 for the 2019-2020 school year. In the new school year, the amount spread around the boardroom table has been reduced to $65,000.
This past school year, the MSHSL allocated $250,000 for computer support services. According to MSHSL Assistant Director Rich Matter, “The MSHSL is in the process of a complete website redesign and build. The computer support services line item records the outside consultants used for IT security service upgrades, IT infrastructure maintenance and support, website maintenance and support and general IT support services.” In the 2020-2021 school year, the MSHSL has move that $250,000 into a new line item titled “Website Design and Build,” as they prepare to redesign the organization’s website.
Included with this article is a copy of the MSHSL budget comparison between 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years.
To help offset the loss of tournament revenue, MSHSL has turned to 506 school districts in the State of Minnesota.
Schools have been accustomed to budgeting for a membership fee along with activity fees, so that isn’t anything new.
But, this year those MSHSL fees have skyrocketed for area schools. At the same time fees are increasing between 336% and 473% for these schools, students are restricted from participating in the same number of activities as past years.
Caledonia Area Public Schools
In Warrior country, Superintendent Craig Ihrke shared that their investment has increased from $1,980 during the 2019-2020 school year to $9,955 this school year. Their COVID installments equal $7,000 based on enrollment.
Chatfield Public Schools
Superintendent Ed Harris shared that last year’s payment was $2,200, and this year’s payment will amount to $10,425 total — a 473% increase for Gopher fans.
According to Harris, “CARES Act funding provided to schools cannot be used to cover this.”
Falcons fans might be surprised to learn that their school has been hit with a 399% increase in fees from MSHSL.
According to Superintendent Heath Olstad, Fillmore Central paid $2,090 last year, and will have to pay $8,349 this school year.
Grand Meadow Schools
Superintendent Paul Besel explained that their combination of annual membership and activity fees increased from $1,980 last year to $3,160 this year. With the additional COVID installments totaling $5,000, the Larks will be paying $8,160 this school year. That’s a 412% increase.
Houston Public Schools
Houston, we have a problem. According to Superintendent Krin Abraham, they paid $2,530 for assessed fees by student and activity. “For the 2020-2021 school year, we were assessed $3,792 for the same number of activities and students. In addition to this fee, we were assessed an additional $5,000 for COVID-related expenses, for a total of $8,792 for the year. This is an increase of 347%.”
Kingsland Public Schools
According to Kingsland Superintendent James Hecimovich and Accounts Payable/Bookkeeper Theresa Zwart, their school paid $1,870 for the 2019-2020 school year. This school year, that amount has spiked to $7,560.
Lanesboro Public Schools
With the help of Superintendent Matt Schultz, he shared that during the 2019-2020 school year the Burros paid $1,980 to the MSHSL. That number has increased to $7,983 for the 2020-2021 school year — a 404% increase.
Superintendent Jennifer Backer-Johnson shared that their annual fees will spike to $5,619, up from $1,760 this past school year.
In the land of the Cougars, Superintendent Gary Kuphal shared that they will be paying $5,481 this year. During the 2019-2020 school year, Mabel-Canton paid $1,540. That’s a 356% increase.
Jon Thompson, superintendent of Rushford-Peterson Schools reported that they have already paid $3,224 for 2020-2021 school year, and will pay an additional $5,000 for a grand total of $8,224. They paid $2,310 last year. That’s an increase of 356%.
Spring Grove Public Schools
In Spring Grove, they spent $1,760 for 15 activities during the 2019-2020 school year. According to Superintendent Rachel Udestuen, their “initial membership for 2020-2021 is $2,663,” with Covid installments for Spring Grove in the amount of $5,000 ($2,500 due in November 2020 and $2,500 due in February 2021).
“Our initial increase from 2019-2020 to 2020-2021 is $903 or 51%. I believe this increase was approved pre-COVID,” explained Udestuen.
“With the COVID installments, the increase goes up $5,903 or nearly 336% from 2019-2020,” shared Udestuen.