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No spring sports saving schools tens of thousands

  • Marion High School Athletic Director Ryan Goodisky says his school - like many in southern Illinois - have saved a lot of money due to the shutdown of spring sports.

    Marion High School Athletic Director Ryan Goodisky says his school - like many in southern Illinois - have saved a lot of money due to the shutdown of spring sports.

By Spyder Dann
updated: 4/10/2020 8:12 AM

Across the board, the coronavirus pandemic means that southern Illinois high schools are saving tens of thousands of dollars this spring, on sports officials, field maintenance, transportation and more.
Harrisburg High School Athletic Director Greg Langley ballparks that Harrisburg has saved about $20,000 alone in money usually paid to sports officials and workers.
Ryan Goodisky, athletic director at Marion High School, agrees. He said that this season, Marion baseball and softball had a home-heavy schedule, which pays $300 a game for baseball officials and $250 for softball officials.
Goodisky, like the other athletic directors, says the money is nothing compared to what his student-athletes are missing out on.
"I just feel for these students, who are struggling with what's going on right now," Goodisky said. "The thing about spring and the end of the school year is closure, and a lot of these kids are not going to get that.
"They're not going to get to go to prom, they're not going to be able to have a graduation and I just know from being around them as much as I am, how hard that is on them and how depressing that must be."
The biggest expense for many southern Illinois schools is transportation.
"Our travel, not just the South Seven Conference, but nonconference as well, that's got to be the biggest expense we have," Goodisky said. "I'm fairly certain one yellow bus from Marion to Carterville is anywhere between $120-$150.
"A bus to the Metro East area is going to cost us anywhere between $300-500 depending on where you are going," he added.
Benton Athletic Director Ryan Miller, who is also the softball coach and transportation director, said the stay-at-home order has also kept schools from spending money on extracurricular miles that schools don't get reimbursement for.
Non-reimbursable miles are anything not on a school bus route or a class-related field trip. So, a softball game to Massac County, a Scholastic Bowl match or if the band goes to a parade, the school district or participants were paying for that out of their own pockets.
"We have to track every mile on the bus," Miller said. "Those extracurricular miles hurt our transportation fund."
As well, schools are not having to take meticulous care of their fields. Goodisky said instead of Marion's fields being groomed every other day, mowing will be cut back to once or twice a week.
Goodisky said if there are no games this spring at all, the only loss of funds will be the dirt they brought in from Alabama for the baseball field.
"The first load was delivered in March," he said. "It wasn't cheap, but if we end up not being able to play, that would be the only cost we have to eat."
It's different in Benton, where the high school pays a rental fee to the Benton Park District to use their fields.
"The park district is responsible for the mowing of the fields," Miller explained.
"The school has a volunteer baseball coach who is in charge of dragging the fields and doing chalk lines."

• Spyder Dann covers prep and college sports for the Southern Illinois Local Media News Group. Follow him on Twitter: @spydieshooter.