JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Changes will be made to the amount of money that high school sports officials are paid per game.
This comes after multiple officiating associations in South Florida threatened to sit out over the issue of low pay, causing shortages in some areas.
The Florida High School Athletics Association said Wednesday that it will be increasing pay for all sports officials in the 2020-21 school year. The association said it's something its staff has been advocating for.
News4Jax was told the last pay raise for all high school sports officials in Florida came six years ago. It was a $5 increase per game. Currently, football officials get $65 per game.
According to the FHSAA, 22 out of 25 associations are fully registered and ready for the start of the school year. The three associations facing shortages are in South Florida.
Fran Delaney, a baseball and softball umpire of 23 years, said the pay increase is long overdue, especially with retention being a huge problem nationwide that ultimately affects the kids.
"To me, saying that there is going to be a raise, that is a great thing that they are going to have it by 2021, but what is it going to be? I mean, it could be as little as $1 to as much as $20. We don’t know," Delaney said. "If you want good officials to work these good games where everyone is happy, they are going to have to be paid. That’s really what it comes down to."
He said it’s going to be hard to make everyone happy because this is a balance between the officials' income and the schools' budgets.
The longtime umpire also added that officiating is not easy work.
“The hardest part about it is, let’s face it, people aren’t very friendly to umpires and officials in general," Delaney said. "So it’s frustrating at times when you go there and people are getting on you about a number of different things and sometimes you wonder if it is worth the money.”
The FHSAA will meet later this month with athletic directors and officials to discuss the issues. A more detailed plan should be announced by the end of this year.
An FHSAA spokesperson said the meeting Aug. 26 will be open to the public:
"This meeting is a task force featuring members of the FHSAA Officials Advisory Committee and the FHSAA Athletic Directors Advisory Committee. Members on *both* committees are *elected* by their peers and represent constituents from across the state. The FHSAA chose five members from each committee representing different schools (public/private), different parts of the state, different association sizes, etc… to get the fairest representation of our entire state. This group will meet and dive into the three main issues brought forth by both groups (Schools and Officials):
- Official Game fees – Capped by FHSAA
- Travel Fees – Negotiated by schools and Associations
- Ancillary fees – Negotiated by schools and Associations
"The FHSAA desperately wanted the meeting to take place before any game did. Back in July, we presented to the task force multiple dates for the meeting. The 26th of August was the first date they could all attend in person. Members of the task force did not want to conduct the meeting via a teleconference due to the importance of the meeting and the logistics involved."