By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
The use of participation fees to help fund interscholastic athletics in Michigan high schools for the first time rose significantly above 50 percent during the 2012-13 school year, according to the most recent survey taken by the Michigan High School Athletic Association of its member institutions.
Use of fees had held steady at just above 50 percent over the last two school years, 2010-11 and 2011-12. But the most recently completed survey indicated that of 450 member schools participating, 249 schools – 55.3 percent – charged participation fees during the 2012-13 school year.
There were 758 senior high schools in the MHSAA membership in 2012-13 – the survey generated a response rate of 59 percent. This was the ninth survey of schools since the 2003-04 school year, when members reported that fees were being charged in 24 percent of schools.
The largest surge of charging fees in 2012-13 came at Class B schools, with 61 percent reporting fees after 54 percent reported using them in 2011-12. Class A schools saw a five percent jump to 71 percent, Class C saw a three percent rise to 49, and Class D schools saw a slight increase to 37 percent assessing fees.
Charging a standardized per-team fee for each on which a student participates remains the most popular method among schools that assess fees – although those doing so in that way dropped to 36 percent, a decrease of more than five percent. The median fee among those schools was $65, a decrease of $10 from the previous year.
Building on a trend that emerged during the 2011-12 survey, the use of fees incurred by students who paid once for an entire year of participation increased again to 29 percent of schools that charge. Families as a whole are facing higher fees as well; although an increasing number of schools are setting a maximum fee a family can be assessed, the amount of that fee increased in 2012-13 to a median of $300.
The survey for 2012-13 and surveys from previous years can be found on the MHSAA Website by clicking on Schools – Administrators – Pay-To-Play Resources.
The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,500 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract more than 1.4 million spectators each year.