After working out a compensation agreement with local athletic directors, the Treasure Coast Officials Association voted unanimously Monday night to officiate games this season, thus avoiding a work stoppage that threatened the high school football season.
As reported by Treasure Coast Newspapers, the officials association credited athletic directors for avoiding an impasse.
“Really, it was because of the effort of the athletic directors in the Treasure Coast area,” TCOA football commissioner Justin Lucas said. “They did not hesitate at all. Our athletic directors looked at the big picture and realized that the football officials were severely under compensated and they wanted to be a part of seeing that their student-athletes and coaches got a chance to play.”
It's not clear just how much officials compensation will improve. The Florida High School Athletic Association sets the maximum pay rate officials can receive in all sports. Football officials had been capped at $65, but they were given latitude to negotiate travel stipends. Last year, TCOA members each received a $14 travel stipend per game.
Even with the travel stipend, Florida has fallen behind the rest of the southeast in terms of compensation. Officials in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Texas pay varsity football officials $100 a game, while Tennessee pays $105. Louisiana ($90), North Carolina ($76) and South Carolina ($73 to $99) pay more than Florida as well. However, not all of those states allow officials to negotiate travel stipends.
Lucas told TCPalm last week that he would like to see the FHSAA increase the number closer to $75 per game this season, with the ultimate goal of receiving the same compensation as officials in Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi.
The TCOA was one of three associations in the state that did not have enough officials registered for the 2019 season. The East Coast Football Officials Association, which covers Palm Beach County, also met Monday night but did not come to a final decision on whether they will work games this season. The South Gulf Football Officials Association, which covers Lee County as well as LaBelle, Moore Haven and Port Charlotte, notified schools last week that it would not be officiating games without a raise. The FHSAA revoked the SGFOA's sanction on Monday, meaning the organization cannot work high school football games this season.
The FHSAA announced last week that it would increase compensation for officials in all sports for the 2020-21 school year, but not for this season. “The FHSAA acknowledging that there would be a change next season, that wasn’t enough for our membership,” Lucas said. “However, with what the schools did plus that, that was enough to get the guys back on the field.”