Use of Participate Fees Falls in 2016-17

July 20, 2017

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Just under half of high schools responding to an annual Michigan High School Athletic Association survey assessed participation fees to help fund interscholastic athletics in 2016-17, making it the first school year since 2009-10 that fewer than 50 percent of respondents reported not charging student-athletes to play sports.

The survey, completed by 557 high schools – or 74 percent of the MHSAA membership – showed 49.7 percent charged participation fees, down from 51.5 percent in 2015-16.

There were 750 senior high schools in the MHSAA membership in 2016-17. This was the 13th survey of schools since the 2003-04 school year, when members reported fees were charged by 24 percent of schools. The percentage of member schools charging fees crossed 50 percent in 2010-11 and reached a high of 56.6 percent in 2013-14.

Class A schools remained the largest group charging fees, as 70 percent of respondents did so in 2016-17 and at least 70 percent have charged for the last five years. Class B schools ticked up to 52 percent charging fees, but Class C (42 down from 49 percent) and Class D (35 down from 38 percent) both reported lower percentages of schools charging fees.

Charging a standardized fee for each team on which a student-athlete participates – regardless of the number of teams – remains the most popular method among schools assessing fees, with that rate at 44 percent of schools that assessed fees for the second straight year. Schools charging a one-time standardized fee per student-athlete rose slightly, from 27 to 31 percent over the last year. Also for the second straight year, the survey showed a slight decrease in schools 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) and also a slight decrease in fees being assessed based on the specific sport being played.

The amounts of most fees also remained consistent from 2015-16 to 2016-17: the median annual maximum fee per student at $150, the median annual maximum family fee at $300 and the median per-team fee at $75 – all for at least the third straight year. The median fee assessed by schools that charge student-athletes once per year increased again, but only $5 to $125 after showing a $20 increase per student-athlete between 2014-15 and 2015-16.

The survey for 2016-17 and surveys from previous years can be found on the MHSAA Website by clicking here.

The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,400 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.