Tournaments for all 26 of the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s sanctioned sports will proceed as planned this year but not without some pain.

The organization announced Sept. 5 that financial cuts are being made due to losses sustained during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The winter sports season was cut short in March just before the state tournaments for hockey, wrestling, girls and boys basketball could begin. At the time, the OHSAA estimated it could lose between $1.4 and $1.5 million in revenue–roughly 8% of its $19 million annual budget. The subsequent cancellation of the spring season and its many state tournaments resulted in additional losses.

Sports returned this fall, but with strict attendance rules in place. Indoor and outdoor facilities are limited to 15% capacity, with some schools not allowing spectators at all.

“Our mission remains the same–to serve our member schools and enrich interscholastic opportunities for students,” OHSAA interim executive director Bob Goldring said in a statement. “That means we have unwavering commitment to continue administering some of the best interscholastic athletic tournaments in the nation and honor our tradition of excellence.”

“But the prospect of conducting all of our tournaments for the 2020-21 school year with spectator capacity limits of 15%, with no more than 1,500 permitted for outdoor events and 300 for indoor events, has already had a significant impact on the association from a financial standpoint,” he said.

Changes coming for this year will include:

All sectional and district tournament tickets will be sold online for $8.

Football and basketball presale ticket shares/bonuses will not be paid out to member schools participating in 2020-21 OHSAA tournaments.

Presale tournament tickets will be available for all sports and will be sold online. Gate tickets aren’t expected to be offered.

No team expenses will be paid to member schools participating in 2020-21 OHSAA tournaments.

$25 tournament entry fees will be incorporated for boys and girls bowling, boys and girls golf, gymnastics, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls tennis, boys and girls track & field and boys and girls swimming & diving. Boys and girls lacrosse will continue to have a $100 fee per gender.

Bowling tournament lane fees and golf tournament greens fees will not be paid by the OHSAA.

The regional and state dual team wrestling tournaments will be suspended for this year.

The OHSAA, with its 815 member schools and 760 seventh- and eighth-grade schools, is a private non-profit organization of 18 full-time employees that generates 80% of its revenue from ticket sales at tournament contests. The other 20% comes from corporate sponsors and officials dues.

Cuts were decided on after recommendations from Goldring’s staff, which received input from the OHSAA finance committee, board of directors members, executive directors from other state high school athletic associations and internal talks run by the OHSAA’s finance office.

“We need to make some unprecedented changes to our tournament financial model during the 2020-21 school year in order to ensure that we can continue to provide the overall outstanding services that our membership expects and to make certain that our programs continue to complement each participant’s educational experience,” Goldring said.

Additional cuts were made before the start of the fall season, and included the reduction of three full-time staff positions, a 20% pay cut for senior staff members and the suspension of retirement contributions for all staff members. All part-time staff and intern positions were eliminated, and the organization even ceased the use of its own media, including OHSAA Magazine and the OHSAA Radio Network.

Contact this reporter at sports@westlifenews.com or 440-871-5797.

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