Watchdog: Follow the Money

Illinois High School Association: Salaries up, revenues down

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Sports,Education,Watchdog,Illinois,Chicago,Kelly Cohen,Follow the Money,Pensions,State Income Taxes

While salaries and benefits for the Illinois High School Association are on the rise, revenues and profits are plummeting.

Between 2006 and 2012, profits from the state's marquee boys basketball tournament fell by 29 percent, government records show. Revenues, which come mostly from ticket sales, also dropped by 17 percent, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Despite this decrease, the IHSA is spending more on salaries and employee benefits, which are up 21 percent in one year's time.

Coaches and school administrators are "befuddled" at the mix of declining tournament revenues and escalating personnel costs, despite having some of the best basketball players in the nation, according to the Sun-Times.

“We have had the greatest high school players in the country over the past five years,” Tyrone Slaughter, boys basketball coach at Whitney Young High School, Class 4A state champions this year and in 2009, told the Sun-Times.

“And they are making less money? That doesn’t make sense.”

Slaughter sees it as a sign that the IHSA, which faces a state legislative hearing this week, is "stuck in the old way of doing things."

The IHSA, which oversees sanctioned high school sports and academic contests with more than 800 schools statewide, is also facing a behind-the-scenes debate about the $11 million it takes in and spends yearly.

When examining the IHSA's finances over the past 10 years, the Sun-Times found of the $11 million it spent in the 2012-13 school year, $3.1 million went to "salaries, other compensation [and] employee benefits." This is compared to $2.5 million the year before.

Pension expenses for the IHSA — which is private and nonprofit — are also skyrocketing, the Sun-Times found.

One coach told the Sun-Times in reaction to the paper's findings, the IHSA "could do something better to make more revenue to help all of the schools."

Read the full article here.

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