Salary structure could prompt high school football officials to boycott Week 1 games – News-Herald

A demand for better pay for officials has potentially put the first week of the high school football season at risk for area schools.

Tony Bondra, Secretary of the Cleveland Football Officials Association, told the News-Herald that association members are “demanding” an increase to $80 per varsity competition starting this season. Many regional conferences pay $65 to $70 per official per game, although some teams and conferences pay more.

Bondra said the association recently surveyed its members and a large majority is prepared to boycott Week 1 games if schools do not provide the raises requested by the association.

The story was first reported by WKYC.com end of July 19.

“Right now, depending on the position we voted on, unless everyone in the region agrees, our guys still want to boycott,” Bondra said in a phone interview with The News-Herald. “Our demands are $80 this year, $90 next year and $100 the following year.”

The $100 per game plateau would put the association on an equal footing with the rest of the country’s football officials, Bondra said, adding that low pay and verbal abuse from fans and coaches are the main reasons for which the number of licensed football officials in Ohio has declined from 3,800 to 2,900 over the past decade.

“We could have easily demanded $100 this year, but we are negotiating in good faith,” Bondra said. “We don’t want a boycott of Week 1 games to happen.”

Chagrin Valley Conference vice president Ryan Peters and 25-team CVC commissioner Dr. Don Lewis said a meeting is scheduled for next week that will bring together conference commissioners and other representatives and directors. Northeast Ohio sportsmen. to discuss the situation and come up with a plan to fix the problem.

But Lewis, a former multi-sports manager, said he took issue with the CFOA over its course of action by publicly threatening a boycott.

“If the money is so important, I understand,” he said. “But to the point of taking kids hostage, it’s just not fair for $10, $20 or even $30. … You don’t negotiate by saying, “If you don’t do this, we’re going to do that,” especially at this time of year. We are less than two weeks away from the start of training.

Bondra said a request was sent to regional conferences and athletic directors in February to raise the salaries of football officials, which would require $80 per varsity game this year and increase by $10 both years. following until the base rate is $100 per game. .

When the request went unaddressed, Bondra said, that’s when the association voted to consider boycotting Week 1 games.

“We sent our initial correspondence on February 28,” Bondra said. “It was only at the July 11 meeting that we voted. It was five months between the initial letter and our boycott vote… If you look at it — the travel time, arriving at 5:30 as OHSAA wants, and the game — you’re talking six hours for $65- $70. We don’t even earn what fast food workers earn.

Peters said initial correspondence was sent to an outdated list of ADs and league leaders. Additionally, the email was labeled as “OHSAA Games Awarded to Northeast District” and directed by “Dear Colleague Officials.”

Peters said, “Them who email the officials don’t say anything to an athletic director or a conference. … To this day, this email has never reached my inbox.

Bondra said a number of schools — he listed St. Edward, St. Ignatius, Benedictine and Gilmour — are already paying the asking rate. Reports say the Crown Conference, Sandusky Bay Conference and Senate League have also increased their salaries.

In recent weeks, conferences such as the CVC, Western Reserve Conference and Crown Conference have contacted or met with the officials association.

Chardon sporting director Doug Snyder confirmed that WRC commissioner George Bellios and league president Dennis Reilly of Eastlake North have already met with the officials’ association.

Peters said he, Lewis and Perry AD TJ Rockwell met with members of the officials’ association in early June and the situation was discussed, but Peters said. “We said we would submit it to our sporting directors and our voting body, but those meetings are in August and September.”

With the start of the season just weeks away, there’s something of a two-minute drill to get a salary resolution before games start – with no officials on hand.

“Yeah, I’m worried,” Peters said. “We don’t have a meeting of voting members until September. We have that meeting next week and we will do our best to accommodate it as soon as possible. But we are also trying to get a school year started here. There are bigger fish to fry.

Another concern is the training effect in other sports. Would raises for football officials also make officials in other sports want a renegotiation?

Beau Rugg, assistant commissioner as well as director of umpiring and sports management for OHSAA, told the News-Herald that the Southwest and Central Ohio districts went through a similar negotiation earlier. this year, but that their negotiation process and resolution were complete.

“Some other sports might not have been very happy (with the result), but for the most part it worked out,” Rugg said. “Especially with football. They are ready to go.

The northeast sector is not there yet.

“What’s happening in the northeast is that officials have reached out and haven’t gotten much of a response,” Rugg said. “Now it’s July and they felt the need to up their rhetoric, I guess. That’s how you get to that point – when you don’t sit down and talk about it.

Rugg said OHSAA does not get involved in such situations, but said, “I will mediate when I can.”

It hasn’t gotten to that point in the northeast yet.

“You want to stay on a higher plane and not get into something that’s probably more caustic,” Rugg said. “Unfortunately, they have come to this in the Northeast. It is not a good thing.

Rugg said he’s been in touch with schools, DAs and the officials’ association and discussed the situation thoroughly. He said the threat to boycott the association comes with serious consequences described by OHSAA.

“If you’re under contract and you break that contract, there are consequences for that,” Rugg said. “If you’re under contract (to referee) in Week 1 and you boycott, that’s a pretty big thing to consider. I’ve talked to them about it.”

Bondra said the penalties include being banned from working in post-season games, among others.

Rugg hopes it doesn’t come to that.

“There are reasonable people on both sides,” he said. “They will come to a reasonable conclusion.”

By the numbers

A list of how much each Northeast Ohio conference pays officials to officiate a college football game, a list provided to the News-Herald.

Conference paid per game

Federal League $90

Metro Athletic Conference $85

Lake Erie League $80

All-American Conference $78

Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference $78

Principals Athletic Conference $75

Suburban League $75

Sorrow Valley Conference $70

Eastern Buckeye Conference $70

Akron City Series $70

Greater Cleveland Conference $70

Lorain County League $70

Northeast Conference 8 $70

Southwestern Conference $70

Portage Trail Conference $70

Wayne County Sports League $70

Western Reserve Conference $65

Cleveland Senate n/a

Great Lakes Conference n/a

Youngstown City Series n/a

Northeast Athletic Conference n/a

William M. Mayer