After years of seeing athletics revenues exceed expenses, the Knoxville School District’s sports’ budget fell into the red for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013.
“We need people to come to games,” Activities Director Randy Wilson said. “That is where my budget comes from.”
The budget’s revenues come from gate receipts. Knoxville is hosting close to the maximum amount of events allowed in a year, including district wrestling and volleyball. Because of the losses, Wilson believes he will have to cut back and “tighten the belt” on expenses for the 2013-14 school year.
In a report given to the school board, total expenses for all middle school and high school, boys’ and girls’ athletics, were $106,074.69. Revenue totaled $90,168.18. In the prior year, revenue was $98,611.60 and expenses were $101,073.57.
Regardless of attendance to a Knoxville Schools’ athletic event, costs remain the same. The costs continue to go up every year.
For example, each football game requires five officials. Knoxville pays $125 per official for each varsity game. Payment to officials must be competitive to ensure that the school is bringing in someone of quality. Other schools in the Little Hawkeye Conference pay between $75-80, but may also offer mileage. Junior high football officials are paid $65, and four are needed at each game.
Each basketball boys’ and girls’ double header costs $95 and three officials are needed. The $95 fee is unanimous among LHC schools. In junior high, the fee is $65 for two officials.
There is not a sport Knoxville hosts in which an official is not paid at least $65. This is consistent among other LHC schools. Each sport requires at least two officials, with the exception of Cross Country.
Hosting sporting events has a positive impact on the community. For instance, a recent track meet hosted in Knoxville was so spread out that Wilson did not attempt to charge admission. He did provide lists of Knoxville restaurants to attendees, and buses could be found all over, supporting Knoxville businesses.
“There are good things for the community when we host,” Wilson said.
High school football remains the school’s most popular sport and moneymaker. The district received $22,795.75 in revenue from the four games it hosted last season. One of those was adversely affected by the weather, which lowered revenue. Costs for football were $15,806.46.
Wilson is hopeful football numbers will improve when Knoxville hosts five games this year. The teams Knoxville will face also travel well (PCM on Aug. 30, Pella on Sept. 20, Chariton on Oct. 11 and Oskaloosa on Oct. 25; homecoming is Sept. 27 vs. Dallas Center-Grimes).
Equipment replacement and upkeep can also be costly. Wilson said he tries to get as much life out of uniforms and equipment as possible. Student safety is never risked in an attempt to save money. Football helmets, which cost approximately $300 each, have a total shelf life of 10 years. Oftentimes, pads and parts of the helmets are replaced to ensure the best for the students’ safety, but no helmet is used beyond 10 years.
Wilson has a rotation set up for uniform replacement among the sports, though that may be adjusted if gate receipts continue to hinder his budget. As it is, varsity uniforms of today will someday be middle school uniforms.
Discussion has been held about potentially raising admission fees. Wilson is confident that he and other district officials can work together to reverse the trend, and hopeful this can be done without fee increases.