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High School Administrators Respond to Newspaper Report on IHSA State Series Hosting

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High school administrators from Illinois High School Association (IHSA) member schools have responded to a Chicago Sun-Times report on the IHSA’s revenue distribution model for its postseason State Series events.

The Sun-Times report fails to identify that the current revenue distribution model was based on a recommendation made by a committee of athletic directors and principals. The report does not provide any quotes from member school principals, athletic directors or coaches in support or opposition of the current model. Nearly 50 member high school administrators have responded to the IHSA providing support and clarity to the hosting process from the school perspective, including the revenue distribution model. A sample of those quotes is listed below.

In addition, the story did not account for the visitors share when citing tournament revenue distribution for the football playoffs. For example, Neuqua Valley High School was paid a visitors share of $2,507.13 for its IHSA Quarterfinal Playoff Football game hosted at Naperville Central, funds the story attributed to being kept by the IHSA.

Laurie Jakubczak, Mother McAuley High School Athletic Director
Mother McAuley has enjoyed the opportunity to host many different sports and levels of IHSA State Series tournaments. The revenue distribution by the IHSA should not come into question because the amount that is guaranteed and the percentage given back to the schools has been determined by a committee of Principals and Athletic Directors. If any school would like to change the revenue sharing they have the opportunity to recommend that to the Athletic Administrators committee or directly to the Board. There are some events that bring in little to no funds at the gate and events that bring numerous fans and revenue. The revenue sharing that was put into place has led to no annual membership or tournament fees and helps pay for all IHSA events, while keeping ticket prices down. Some intangible benefits to the host school besides the savings in travel expenses, is the opportunity to showcase their school to established fan bases and regional rivalries.

Henry Johnson, Fr. McGivney High School Athletic Director; Former AD at Mascoutah HS
“I was among the group of administrators (while at Mascoutah) who took part in helping to revise the revenue split structure for schools hosting IHSA State Series events. When the IHSA was told that changes were needed to keep current with rising costs for schools, they stepped up and asked ‘what they needed to do’. The IHSA has always been willing to do what was needed to make the experience of hosting a State Series event at your school a good experience for the host school and fans.”

Kevin Cartee, Red Bud High School Athletic Director
“In seventeen years of athletic administration, I know of not one member school of the IHSA that hosts a state series event to ‘make money’ on a large scale. Hosting an event, regardless of the level, affords a school a home field/court advantage, cuts down travel expenses, gives clubs and organizations the opportunity to generate concession revenue, allows the opportunity to showcase your school, and is great for the community. Speaking for myself, these positives far outweigh what percentage that I will receive from hosting a state series event. Schools hosting do so on a voluntary basis, knowing full well the guarantee money and revenue percentages the school will receive. I am confident that I can speak for the athletic directors of Illinois; ‘we are doing just fine’. If there is an issue with revenue sharing or any other issue, the member schools of the IHSA can fix it on our own. We do not want or need any assistance from state government or any state agency. We can govern ourselves.”

Dan Jones, Hinsdale Central High School Athletic Director
“It is very important to understand that this is our association, the member schools. If we feel there needs to be a change, we will make that recommendation and vote on that change. The membership currently feels that the present financial percentage sharing works for the hosting schools, and more importantly helps those activities and sports that do not and cannot generate revenue to continue to compete and perform. The IHSA is our organization. The by-laws and guidelines are set by the member schools. If there are issues or changes that need to be made, our membership will do this. We elect our board of directors to lead our organization. This is a membership led organization.”

Brian Knutson, Tri-Valley High School (Downs) Athletic Director
“I have worked in high school athletics as a coach and administrator for nearly 30 years and enjoyed my interactions with the IHSA throughout. The organization has been criticized by the media and education committee about salaries and finances, despite maintaining a balanced budget and using its resources to offer great opportunities for its member schools. It is easy to say that schools should get a larger cut of State Series host revenue, but we also need to be realistic about the repercussions for changes like this. Personally, making a few hundred extra dollars hosting an event would not be worth the potential tradeoffs that might occur; whether it be higher ticket prices for fans, less opportunities for our students or a reduction in quantity or quality of the IHSA staff, who serve us well in our daily interactions.”

Bob Lim, Marist High School (Chicago) Athletic Director
“I find it extremely valuable to host IHSA post season events for several reasons: It gives our teams a "home field advantage" if it is an opening round, or if we are still fortunate enough to be participating in the later rounds. It is a great showcase for our facilities and our school, and a pleasure to create a great experience for the teams, schools, and fans involved. You'll notice I didn't mention monetary gain. After paying out workers and expenses associated with running a postseason event, most sports are essentially a breakeven proposition. I see it as the ‘cost of doing business’. The exposure our school receives, along with the advantage and the experience for our own kids, makes it worthwhile. “

Todd Rosenthal, Moline High School Athletic Director
“This will be my 15th year as an Athletic Director and I can say the IHSA is a professional, fair and transparent organization. The IHSA has a committee system in place for all member schools to report issues or submit changes to the organization. In other words, I feel we have a voice. I have never been pressured to host a postseason event and I have always felt honored when asked. In almost all cases, Moline has made a financial gain when hosting postseason events. In my opinion, Moline High School would like to continue to support the organization under its current postseason system.”

Vinay Mullick, Perspectives Charter Schools Athletic Director
“Perspectives Charter Schools have been very fortunate to host State Series event over the last few years, and each instance was a great experience for our school community. Hosting has helped us save funds related to transportation, while also helping us bring in additional revenue. During the host process, the IHSA office has been super supportive and is always very easy to work with and to get our questions answered.”

Sam Knox, Lincoln High School Athletic Director
“We enjoy hosting IHSA postseason tournaments for many reasons. Our teams benefit from playing extra home games, and our fans don't have to travel to support our teams. In addition, we reap the financial benefits of hosting postseason events. Our game-day staff members receive extra pay for working the games, our concession stand takes in extra profit, and our local businesses see an increase in revenue when IHSA events are held in Lincoln. In the past nine years at Lincoln, our school has profited over $17,000 from hosting IHSA postseason tournaments in a variety of sports, excluding concession stand revenue. We fully understand what we are getting into when we agree to host an IHSA event, as the guidelines for hosting, including all financial arrangements, are clearly spelled out in each sports’ Terms and Conditions.”

Eric Matthews, Farmington High School Athletic Director
“No schools are required to host IHSA postseason sports or activities. All schools have the ability to fill out a hosting survey. This survey allows us to request to host the events we feel would fit out school. One of the best things about the IHSA is the ability to participate on committees and get involved. They are always reaching out to athletic directors and encouraging them to get involved at the state level. The ability to have a voice is strong. ”

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