WKYT Investigates | Ky. high school athletic directors weigh in on financial fallout of potential loss of football season

Published: Jul. 23, 2020 at 5:57 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - On Tuesday morning, the KHSAA Board of Control is set to have its next meeting about the status of fall sports. As of now, Commissioner Julian Tackett is adamant that fall sports will be played, but what’s the cost if that doesn’t happen?

WKYT’s Alex Walker spoke to athletic directors at Lexington Christian, Scott County and Estill County High School and asked the following question: what’s the financial fallout of not having a high school football season?

“We would suffer a great deal from losing gate and losing concessions. We will lose a good deal. It won’t put our department in jeopardy, but it will certainly be a big hit,” said Lexington Christian Academy Athletic Director Terry Johnson.

High Schools like LCA use a centralized model for their athletic budget. A big chunk of that budget is funded by participation fees paid by families of each athlete and another chunk is gate and concessions.

LCA brings in anywhere between $15,000-20,000 during football season. Losing that money would hurt, but it won’t have a trickle down effect like it would on other schools.

“I think there will be a significant amount of fallout for a number of schools,” Johnson said. “I don’t want to make it sound like we wouldn’t because we would. It would be a big hit. The ramifications for some schools will be pretty big. They use that gate and those concessions to help pay for sports that maybe need that help.”

Like LCA, the impact of losing out on football is self-contained to football at Scott County High School. While most schools in Kentucky run off the football budget, the Cardinals are a bit different.

“For most districts, not having a football season is catastrophic,” said D.T. Wells, Scott County District Director of Athletics. “Their sports for example run off of the concessions and part of the gate may be split between the teams. Here in Scott County, it’s a little different. Each team, including football, they keep what they make. It will only affect football here.”

As for Estill County High School, the fallout of losing a revenue generator like football would be crushing to the smaller sports.

“Football brings in between $16,000-20,000 and that helps fund those non-revenue sports,” said Jordan Marcum, the athletic director and head football coach at Estill County. “That may not be a lot of money compared to other schools, but it’s really hard when you don’t have that money and backing. Without football funding them, will be difficult on them. They will have to reach out to the community and continue to ASK ASK ASK to get some funds to do the things that they are doing and you really don’t want to see that happen.”

And as Wells explains, football or no football, schools have to adjust to the new normal.

“Teams that do fundraisers-- the car washes you typically do don’t happen. Traveling out of state to go to tournaments and different things. Things will be different this year. It’s not 2019. We have to be able to adjust to what happens and look out for what’s in the best interest for the kids.”

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