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Local ADs welcome fresh source of funds from RIIL's revenue-sharing program

March 28, 2013

Tolman athletic director John Scanlon (right) on the revenue-sharing program: “I think the formula is good. The more you play, the more you pay and the more you get back.” PHOTO BY ERNEST A. BROWN.

What is one telltale sign that an organization is doing well from a financial standpoint? Answer: When a revenue-sharing plan is met with a ringing endorsement by the powers-that-be.
“We’re all in this together,” is the phrase Tom Mezzanotte, executive director of the Rhode Island Interscholastic League, used shortly the approval of a revenue-sharing program at the March 18 Principals’ Committee on Athletics meeting. The unanimous vote (10-0) green lights the distribution of profits that are leftover once all the RIIL’s expenses are all squared away to the 55 member high schools.
Prior to the vote being cast, Mezzanotte announced that the league’s Finance Committee recently opened the books with a representative from J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. The analysis yielded good news with even more coming thanks to the RIIL agreeing upon a three-year contract with PlayOn! High School Sports Network. The deal ensures that streaming live online coverage of postseason games remains part of the fabric.
The healthy fiscal numbers also reflect the addition of several new sponsors the Interscholastic League has been able to attract. Instead of sitting on a surplus, league officials are giving back to the schools, understanding that without the group’s efforts and cooperation, the RIIL – a non-profit association that does not receive any state funding – wouldn’t be dealing from a position of strength.
“The league seems to be doing well and I think it’s a great P.R. move to say that some of the money is going back to the schools,” said Frank Geiselman, the athletic director at Cumberland High.
How much money each school receives will depend on the number of varsity teams. Mezzanotte noted that the Interscholastic League plans to take a lump sum that is expected to range from between $50,000 and $100,000 and create shares based on the 957 varsity teams that compete in this state. Once all the facts and figures are calculated, distribution to the 55 schools will take place sometime after July 1. Beginning with the 2013-14 academic year, the revenue-sharing criteria will depend on leftover funds after various expenditures such as running postseason events are pared down.
Just to provide some sort of idea of what the schools can expect, let’s use Tolman High and its 23 varsity programs as an example. If the league adheres to a onetime distribution figure of $100,000 and divides by 957, then each sport is worth $104. If such math proves correct, Tolman would receive a check in the amount of $2,392.
“I think the formula is good. The more you play, the more you pay and the more you get back,” noted Tolman athletic director John Scanlon. “Any time you can get an additional source of revenue, it’s a good thing.”
Added Geiselman, “Budgets are tight everywhere, so if you can get something back, even if it’s a little bit, it’s going to definitely help.”
Presumably, the money from the RIIL’s war chest will be deposited back into each school’s athletic coffers. The fresh monetary source also figures to provide a much-needed benefit to programs at schools that are self-funded. Additionally, the share can serve as a means to pay down expenses that are incurred during the playoffs. Generally, non-regular season games are not taken into account when mapping out athletic expenses for a given year.
“Most school budgets don’t include playoff plans,” noted George Nasuti, Woonsocket High’s athletic director. “As good as it is to have some great years, it taxes your budget quite a bit when it comes to transportation, officials and other matters.”
The notion of returning money to the schools is another step forward by the Interscholastic League in fostering good will. For the second straight year, the RIIL did not raise membership dues or fees.
“A nice way to have a revenue share that’s equal to all cities and towns, it would just be helpful,” said Nasuti. “I think it’s a good message on behalf of the Interscholastic League to share revenue because that’s what it’s all about.”

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