Illinois' proposed income cap could cut state tourneys

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. -- State championships in events ranging from golf to Scholastic Bowl could be jeopardized under a proposed law that would cap the Illinois High School Association's income from postseason tournaments, IHSA officials said Tuesday.

Rep. Kurt Granberg, D-Centralia, introduced a bill last week that would limit the IHSA to no more than 15 percent of gross receipts from its 35 season-ending tournaments, with the remainder going to host schools.

Granberg did not immediately return a call for comment on the bill, introduced the same day the IHSA announced it will start handing out more state titles in 2007-08 by expanding its current two-class system to three or four classes in several sports, including basketball.

The IHSA now collects about 30 percent of the gross revenue from its annual tournaments, executive director Marty Hickman said. Only basketball, football, wrestling, volleyball, baseball and softball turn a profit, he said, providing money that subsidizes the other tournaments.

IHSA officials said tournament revenue is the main source of income for the Bloomington-based organization, which ended dues for its 750 members in 1999-2000 and eliminated entry fees for postseason tournaments this year.

If Granberg's bill is approved, the IHSA would have to impose "substantial" dues and entry fees or cut some of its 14 postseason tournaments in both boys and girls sports and seven nonathletic championships, Hickman said.

Money-losing tournaments that would be most at risk include cross-country, golf, tennis, gymnastics, music, speech, chess and Scholastic Bowl, which combine to attract nearly 100,000 students every year, according to the IHSA.

"I have absolutely no idea what Representative Granberg's motivation is since he has never discussed this issue with me," Hickman said. "Furthermore, no school from Mr. Granberg's area has ever expressed to me any concern regarding this issue."

IHSA officials said the organization shares revenue with member schools, doling out more than $3.3 million during the 2004-05 school year to schools that hosted postseason games and for travel expenses during tournament play.

"I see nothing but negatives for our kids and our organization if this bill is approved," Hickman said. "It would mean steep dues and entry fees for schools that are already having financial problems or cutting programs for the kids. That would be the real travesty."

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