As expected, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association finance director Colleen Maguire unveiled potential increases to membership dues and tournament fees Wednesday during the Directors of Athletics Association of New Jersey state conference in Atlantic City.
If approved, membership dues would climb from $2,150 to $2,500 for all schools beginning in 2020-21, according to northjersey.com. The fee for a golf team that qualifies for the state tournament will rise from $85 to $150. Tennis and bowling teams would have fees rise from $80 to $120. For the individual bowling, cross country and tennis tournaments, fees would rise to $20 per athlete. The NJSIAA is unable to charge for attendance at certain state championships, and attendance is trending downward in others.
Other sports would see tournament fees upped to $90, with the current standard for most being $80. Maguire singled out golf as needing a large increase because of the difficulty and expense of finding courses to host NJSIAA events.
Sixty percent of the NJSIAA’s revenue comes from dues, tournament fees and ticket prices, northjersey.com reported. The NJSIAA has been limited in its ability to raise any of those because of legislation initiated by John Burzichelli (D-Gloucester) in 2010. By law, those fees can’t increase more than one percent over the Consumer Price Index.
However, New Jersey Commissioner of Education Dr. Lamont Repollet has the power to implement changes he deems necessary. Repollet was present for McGuire's presentation Wednesday and is expected to decide whether to approve the changes next month.
"Hopefully in April we can hear," Maguire said. "I want to get it out as soon as possible to the school administrations."
Maguire added that this proposal is preferable to cutting staff or sports. The NJSIAA currently offers championships in 32 different sports, having just added girls wrestling. The state ranks ninth in the nation in terms of high school sports participation, but the NJSIAA operates with a smaller budget (by at least $1 million) than two schools below New Jersey in the participation rankings.
"I would hope people understand, it's going to be 2020 and it's been 10 years where [prices] have been fixed," Maguire said. "They also know that their conference fees and entrance fees for county tournaments are a lot more. I hope they appreciate that we need to spread our issues across all our member schools."