Distribution of athletic funding explained

Every year, students, parents and community members flock to the games of the high school’s athletic programs. Throughout the year, the sports — tennis, baseball, basketball, volleyball and more — field student athletes while the community can look on.

One question is sometimes overlooked by many who appreciate high school sports, though:

Where’s the money coming from?

A series of operations such as Duncan Public Schools’ athletic programs must require capital to keep running, and that money has to come from somewhere.

According to district Finance Director Channa Byerly, most of the money for each sport comes from the athletic activity fund, which is filled with money raised by the sports themselves.

“They have one thing [the athletic activity fund] where they can put money from concessions, from gates,” she said.

According to High School Athletic Director Zack Hood, the money in the activity fund is doled out to each sport individually.

“At the beginning of the year, we get a certain chunk of money, and it gets broken down on a year-by-year basis,” he said. “It comes from Central, and the Central Office says, ‘Okay, this is your allotment,’ and every sport, kind of based on size and that type of thing, gets a certain chunk of money.”

According to Byerly, two sports, football and basketball, contribute almost all of the money in the Activity Fund.

”Obviously football’s our biggest and largest revenue. That’s across the state,” she said. “Those two sports are really sustaining the budgets for every other sport.”

Even though the contributions to the activity fund may not be uniform across the sports, the money is still divided to each sport regardless of each one’s contribution to athletic funds.

According to superintendent Melonie Hau, part of this reason is due to equity issues and the Federal Title 9 directive, which deals with equal opportunity, specifically among genders.

“We have equity issues, obviously,” she said. “Because if those sports are generating the most revenue, they can’t just say, ‘Well, we generate the most revenue, so we get to do whatever we want.’”

According to Byerly, after the Activity Fund money is distributed to the sports, the Athletic Department essentially tells the sports that they have to cover any additional expenses themselves.

The fundraising done by each sport goes to fill the remaining expenses of that sport, beyond what their Activity Fund money can cover. This includes all of the fundraisers the sports do around the school and community, according to Byerly.

“You’ve seen what kind of fundraisers each sport [does],” she said. “The posters, the T-shirts and everything.”

Hood said that fundraising is boosted significantly by Duncan’s community.

“We’ve got a lot of boosters in the community, a lot of businesses support athletics, too,” he said. “So we’ve got a lot of good community support which a lot of towns don’t have.”

However, some expenses of each sport are covered using other school funds. The General Fund, for instance, is what is used to hire coaches.

According to Byerly, the General Fund, which received significant cuts in state funding last year, is mostly used for the salaries of employees.

“If you look at a whole budget, about 76% of that is payroll,” she said.

She also said that the General Fund is used to hire some officials for athletic events, even though this is a relatively unusual practice among high schools.

“As far as large schools, we’re one of the few schools that actually even pay for the officials,” she said. “Most schools [say] completely, ‘You’re on your own. You figure it out, you raise the revenue. They don’t get any money from general fund. But we’re not there yet. We feel like we want to help and contribute to that part.”

The Athletic Department also gets some money from the district Building Fund to help maintain its facilities, such as the football stadium, according to Byerly. However, aside from this stipend and the personnel salaries from the General Fund, most of the money Hood gets to work with comes from the sports’ own income.

“Everybody’s trying to always make a little extra money and stretch those dollars, and that’s my job as athletic director,” he said. “To make sure that when we get that money, to be a good steward of that money and to make sure we’re not blowing our money on things we don’t need, so it’ll trickle back to our kids and our coaches.”