MHSAA Survey Shows Lower Rate of ‘Pay-to-Play’ Fees Continued as Participation Rose in 2022-23

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

July 27, 2023

Participation continued to bounce back at Michigan High School Athletic Association member schools during the 2022-23 school year, but the percentage of those schools charging fees to participate in sports was nearly unchanged for the third-straight year as it remained near its lowest rate of the last two decades.  

Just 41 percent of MHSAA member schools charged participation fees during the 2022-23 school year, following 40 percent using them during 2021-22 and 41 percent in 2020-21.

The MHSAA participation fee survey has measured the prevalence of charging students to help fund interscholastic athletics annually since the 2003-04 school year. The percentage of member schools charging fees crossed 50 percent in 2010-11 and reached a high of 56.6 percent in 2013-14 before falling back to 50 percent or below. The survey showed 48 percent of member schools charged fees during 2019-20, the first school year affected by COVID-19, before the substantial reduction followed as programs continued to navigate the pandemic.  

Of the 574 schools (77 percent of membership) which responded to the 2022-23 survey, 234 assessed a participation fee, while 340 did not during the past school year. For the purposes of the survey, a participation fee was anything $20 or more regardless of what the school called the charge (registration fee, insurance fee, etc.).

Class A schools, as in past years, made up the largest group charging fees, with 55 percent of respondents doing so. Class B and Class D schools followed, with 41 and 36 percent charging fees, respectively, and 30 percent of Class C schools also charged for participation.

Among schools assessing fees, a standardized fee for each team on which a student-athlete participates – regardless of the number of teams – has shown for a number of years to be the most popular method, with that rate unchanged in 2022-23 at 46 percent of schools with fees. Next again were 33 percent of assessing schools charging a one-time standardized fee per student-athlete, followed by 14 percent assessing fees based on tiers of the number of sports a student-athlete plays (for example, charging a larger fee for the first team and less for additional sports).

The amounts of participation fees have remained relatively consistent over the last decade. For 2022-23, the median annual maximum fee per student was again $150, although the median maximum fee per family increased slightly to $350 – up $50 from 2021-22. The median fee assessed by schools that charge student-athletes once per year was $120 for the second straight, and the median fee for schools that assess per team on which a student-athlete plays was $100, up from $75 in 2021-22.

The survey for 2022-23 and surveys from previous years can be found on the MHSAA Website.

As reported earlier this month, participation in MHSAA-sponsored sports continued to climb in 2022-23, up 2.7 more percent for a combined 9.9-percent increase over the last two school years. More on participation can be found here.

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 1.3 million spectators each year.

MHSAA Accepting Student Advisory Council Applications for Class of 2026

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

April 11, 2024

The Michigan High School Athletic Association is seeking student-athletes to become members of its Student Advisory Council beginning with the 2024-25 school year.

Four boys and four girls from the Class of 2026 will be selected to two-year terms, and will meet on matters related to maintaining and promoting a proper perspective and sensible scope for high school sports in Michigan. Eight members from the Class of 2025 already are serving on the Council, while eight members from the Class of 2024 are leaving the Council this spring.

To be eligible for the committee, candidates must be a member of the Class of 2026, complete the official application including answering the three short-answer questions, submit a letter of recommendation from a school administrator, have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) and be available for all scheduled meetings.

In addition, candidates should show a history of leadership on athletic teams as well as with other extracurricular activities, community service projects, or in the workplace; and show an understanding of the role of school sports and have ideas for promoting a proper perspective for educational athletics.

Applications are due to the MHSAA by 4:30 p.m. on April 22. Applications can be downloaded from the Student Advisory Council page of the MHSAA Website and must be returned via e-mail, fax or any mail delivery service

The Student Advisory Council meets six times each school year, and once more for a 24-hour leadership camp. In addition to assisting in the promotion of the educational value of interscholastic athletics, the Council discusses issues dealing with the 4 S’s of educational athletics: scholarship, sportsmanship, safety (including health and nutrition) and the sensible scope of athletic programs. A fifth S – student leadership – is also a common topic. Members contribute to the planning of Sportsmanship Summits, Captains Clinics and other student leadership events, and assist with medal ceremonies at MHSAA championship events.

Newly-chosen members will join the following from the Class of 2025: Cale Bell, Sault Ste. Marie; Drew Cady, Oxford; Macy Jenkins, Milford; Isaiah Kabban, Harbor Beach; Ella Knudsen, Leland; Kaylee Kranz, Clinton; Joey Spada, Kalamazoo Central; and Aynalem Zoet, Grandville Calvin Christian.

The eight new members of the Student Advisory Council will be notified by May 3. The 2024-25 meetings are tentatively scheduled for Aug. 25, Oct. 6, Dec. 8, Feb. 16 and April 27, in addition to the leadership camp June 18-19 and with a May 2025 meeting still to be scheduled.  Meetings will take place at the MHSAA Office in East Lansing, For additional information, contact Andy Frushour at the MHSAA at (517) 332-5046 or [email protected].