OSSAA reports six-figure revenue loss

Garber’s Sha Martin holds up the state championship trophy March 7, 2020, at the State Fair Arena in Oklahoma City. While the Class A and B state tournaments were played, the 2A-6A tournaments fell victim to the coronavirus pandemic, leaving OSSAA with a significant revenue loss.

OKLAHOMA CITY — Not playing the state prep basketball tournament and spring sports being shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic didn't just impact state student athletes, it also put a major dent in Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association's revenue stream.

OSSAA Executive Director David Jackson reported during OSSAA's board of directors meeting on Tuesday, conducted via Zoom teleconference, the organization lost $175,000 due to the cancellation of spring sports. When factoring in losses from the cancellation of the Class 2A-6A state basketball tournaments, total lost revenue was $620,000.

Jackson said, when considering lost sponsorships and fees being returned to the schools, the revenue hit could be just shy of seven figures, estimated at $900,000 by Jackson.

There also was discussion of whether to reimburse districts in full, in part or table for later, the reimbursement of $71,000 in travel for fall sports. The board voted 14-0 in favor of reimbursing the districts as scheduled.

With mounting losses, the board voted to not proceed with annual pay raises for its staff at this time. It was also decided OSSAA would not purchase new vehicles to replace the two vehicles currently in use. OSSAA typically purchases two new cars every two years.

Jackson also said he expects fall activities to proceed as scheduled, however, the exact determination of fall activity schedules and any potential contingency plans if fall sports were disrupted will be discussed further at a special board meeting later this month or in July.

The loss of fall activities alone, Jackson said, could result in another $1 million in lost revenue.

In other business, the board voted unanimously to cancel this year's dead period, which would have shut down all athletic activities from June 27 to July 5. The dead period was first enacted in 2019 to give student athletes a break. However, with spring sports activities canceled, it was not felt there was a need for the dead period.

Waiving the dead period means summer baseball will not be interrupted nor will offseason conditioning programs that are currently taking place.

The board spent considerable time during its 90-minute meeting Tuesday discussing a petition that was submitted regarding fall baseball. The petition, brought by baseball coaches and administrators from small classification football-playing schools, sought to create separate divisions for fall baseball schools from football-playing schools during the spring baseball season.

The petition stated in the past 15 years Christian Heritage High School has been the only football playing school to have won a state baseball championship in classes B-2A. The petitioners claimed fall baseball schools "have a massive advantage in games played and practice time, often more than doubling" that of the football playing schools.

Despite considerable discussion, no action was taken. The board instead, by a 13-1 vote, authorized OSSAA to form a committee to study it further and report back to the board. Three Northwest Oklahoma schools, Drummond, Cimarron and Dover, currently field fall baseball teams.

The Zoom feed of the board's teleconference meeting reached a peak viewership of around 200 during discussion of the fall baseball petition.

As expected, the board did not revisit its vote last month at a special board meeting that allowed summer athletic activities to resume effective June 1 at the discretion of the individual school districts. There had been speculation some of the larger districts would seek to pursue another vote or another plan. However, there was no such agenda item and it never came up during Tuesday's meeting, leaving in place its earlier vote.

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Ruthenberg is sports editor for the Enid News & Eagle.

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