PICKENS COUNTY—Athletic directors at Easley and Pickens high schools expressed concern over flexibility options for additional money made available for non-revenue sports in the county.
A recent budget amendment approved on a 5-1 vote the Pickens County School Board requires high school athletic programs to spend $15,000 of their annual budget on non-revenue sports equipment, while the district provides a matching $15,000 to do the same.
“We’re not going to complain about anything we’re getting,” said Pickens High Athletic Director Steve Corn. “It’s just difficult when you have to do it in a matching funds situation. They’re still kind of controlling how we spend (the money).”
“We’ll certainly have some needs as far as baseball, softball, and track,” said Easley High Athletic Director Chris Carter. “I don’t think we’ll have a problem finding the items that we need, I just wish we would have been given the flexibility to use that money for travel as well.”
Corn says that while Pickens is grateful for the money, he does not see the point in the strings that are attached.
“This is $15,000 more dollars than what we have, so (we are grateful),” said Corn. “My next question would be what if you don’t have the $15,000 to match it? Why not just give me $15,000? They’re just giving it now with a stipulation.”
Carter echoed Corn’s beliefs.
“I’m thankful that they were able to get $15,000 back in to help us, because it is certainly better than zero,” said Carter. “My concern is that the $15,000 has been earmarked for equipment only, and for the most part, the biggest expense in non-revenue sports isn’t equipment, but it’s transportation.”
Board Member Judy Edwards made the argument that supplying schools with a one-time matching fund of $15,000 for non-revenue sports equipment could ultimately turn them into revenue generating sports.
Corn and Carter disagreed.
“There’s absolutely no way that boys’ and girls’ cross country, boys’ and girls’ tennis, and boys’ and girls’ golf could ever be revenue sports because those are not ticketed events,” said Carter. “The only opportunity you have for revenue is the allocation from the school district or from the state, and then the coach’s ability to (conduct) fundraisers and be self-sufficient. In my opinion, there’s no way certain non-revenue sports could ever be revenue sports because it’s just not set up that way.”
Corn says most non-revenue sports only exists because of the larger amount of revenue generated from football.
“Football is the moneymaking sport in every school,” said Corn. “If it wasn’t for football, we wouldn’t be able to have these other sports because we do not get a dime from the district. Money that we make in our sports now, very few of them break even, and most of them lose money by the time you pay for travel, security, and officials.”
“It costs $3,000 to put a football game on. People don’t understand that,” Corn continued. “We kept our heads above water when we were receiving what was called the non-revenue sport money before. That helped us survive with our sports, and pretty much covered travel and some equipment.”
While the funds will only be allocated to non-revenue sports equipment, Carter says there is still so much that can be purchased with that money.
Both Corn and Carter’s schools will be moving into new facilities, which means the need has never been higher for these two athletic programs.
“We’ve got to buy everything as far as track and field goes,” said Carter. “I think you could probably make some money at track meets if you run it right, have nice equipment, and have a nice facility. Just the start-up costs before the first ticket is sold are astronomical. We could probably spend $25,000 just on track.”