SPORTS: Principal Shelby answers questions about sports funding

Sports funding seems like a rigged system to many. A system that biases one sport while another is left in the dust. After many complaints about funding, one staffer asked Principal Gregory Shelby about what really goes on in the world of sports funding.

Is there a budget for sports funding?

There’s actually four separate budgets for sports funding. There are items that are taken care of directly by the district that are just set amounts. Those include paying for coaches and large scale equipment that is necessary. Then we have a site discretionary budget that is overseen by the athletic directors. They use that for whatever is necessary for the sport to happen. There’s a third account and that is the fundraising account used for consumables. It used to be a club account for every individual sport. Now, we do it as one big account to try to keep track of who’s been fundraising so those students can largely get what they’ve fundraised for. We have to monitor it to make sure it’s fair and roughly equitable between the genders. The fourth account is the athletic events account. That’s money from tickets that goes into paying for refs, scorekeepers, and other personnel. Basically, when someone is paying for tickets, they’re paying for the necessary personnel to run those events. Some sports have those costs and don’t bring in any money, and others, particularly football, bring in more money than they cost. There’s one more source of income when groups rent our facilities for whatever reason. Part of the profit goes to the district and part of the profit goes to us. We tend to use that for larger purchases that we couldn’t normally do out of the normal budget. For example, we needed to do all new netting around the baseball and softball areas. It came out of there.

How much are the different budgets? Do they vary year by year?

Yes, it has changed in different years. For example, one of our biggest costs is busing our athletes to different events. There’ve been years when the district paid for that directly, and there’ve been years when we had to pay for it. The athletic director’s account was north of one-hundred thousand dollars this year. Our athletic event account is constantly changing. We tend to start a little positive in the fall because of football, but we often run out and then have to supplement it with some other source.

There’s a budget from the district. Where does the athletic director’s budget come from?

It’s the district as well. It’s basically who is overseeing it. Paying for coaches is done out of our district’s human resources department, so we never see those funds. Whereas when we have to make some site-based decisions, the athletic directors will have a lot more discretion. One of the things that comes out of that budget is uniforms. We have a rotation, so every year we are buying one or two teams a new uniform, but any given sport will probably go five or more years before they get to have more uniforms.

How is the athletic director’s budget split? Is it split in any specific way?

There’s one budget shared by our two athletic directors. They have to ensure that every sport has what they need and that sports be treated fairly. There are some sports that don’t exist without tournaments, and those require a few more fees. Wrestling only has six dual matches every year. That’s not enough, so the only way for wrestlers to compete is to enter into tournaments. Whereas basketball and football don’t need that. Cross country has seven events, but they’re all tournaments. Golf has some unique things where we have to find ways to pay for courses. Every sport is slightly different. There’s no one-size-fits-all.

What does fundraising money go to?

Fundraising money is intended for the extras. We make sure teams have uniforms. Now, if they want to have sweatshirts with names on their backs, that’s extra. That’s not necessary. It’s also meant to be consumable by those athletes. If you see a team that has bags with their numbers and their names on it, they’ve done extra fundraising in order to get that kind of thing.

What are some benefits other than profit, for charging a fee?

You have a crowd that is slightly more limited, which has some safety benefits. Very often, when we have problems at our sporting events, it’s from people who are not affiliated with either school. It’s frustrating how many of our problems come from people other than Santa Clara High School students. Usually, in football and in basketball this is a problem.

Although some may argue otherwise, sports funding is designed to be a complex but fair process to account for everyone’s needs. As Principal Shelby said, “Going into the financial side of sports is tricky because it’s always far more complicated than you think it would be. But it’s an important topic, and in the end, we want to make sure it’s fair for different sports and both genders.”