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IHSA Board Approves Expanded Officiating Partnership with ArbiterSports

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The IHSA Board of Directors met for their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, April 16, 2019, where the Board approved a recommendation to begin conducting background checks as a part of the registration process for IHSA officials, while also expanding the IHSA’s partnership with officials assigning company ArbiterSports.

“The background check is important for the peace of mind of everyone involved in a high school sporting event in Illinois,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “It is something we have studied closely the past few years and believe adds an extra level of safety for officials, schools, student-athletes and coaches.”

As a result of the new ventures, licensing fees for IHSA officials will increase from $50 to $70 for a single sport or first sport licensure. A second sport licensure will cost $20 (previously $15), and any sport licenses beyond two will remain at $15 per sport license. The changes mark the first increase in IHSA officials’ fees since 2014, and the first change for a secondary license since 1998.

“Historically, we have looked at officials fees every four to five years,” said Anderson. “On paper, this looks like a significant financial change, but the expanded partnership with ArbiterSports will create a situation where many officials are paying around the same amount as they did in the past, or potentially even saving money.”

Under its new agreement with ArbiterSports, the IHSA will cover all fees for high schools and assignors using ArbiterSports. Previously, schools who assigned their own officials, and the 100+ assignors around the state who assigned via ArbiterSports, charged each of the officials who worked for them a fee to cover the costs associated with using ArbiterSports. The IHSA will now cover those costs via this expanded partnership.

“Most officials will work for at least one or two assignors,” said IHSA Assistant Executive Director Sam Knox, a 20-plus year IHSA basketball and baseball official. “But it’s not uncommon in sports like basketball to work for as many as four or five. I believe that our evolving partnership with Arbiter Sports will help make life easier on our officials and assignors, as the regular-season and postseason assigning processes will mirror one another more closely.”

The IHSA began partnering with Arbiter Sports during the 2018-19 school year, paying all officials for IHSA postseason contests through ArbiterSports’ ArbiterPay. A pay increase for IHSA postseason officiating is expected to be approved by the IHSA Board prior to the start of the 2019-20 school year.
“We appreciate every individual who chooses to give back to high school sports by becoming an IHSA official,” said Anderson. “We need more officials in every sport. We hope that streamlining these processes and being able to provide more online education and implementation will help us to reach that next generation of officials.”

Current IHSA officials were contacted about the changes on April 16, 2019 ahead of the annual license renewal process, which runs from May 1 through June 30. The IHSA will partner with People Trail to conduct the background checks. Previously, the IHSA worked in conjunction with the Illinois State Police to vet officials via the State Police’s criminal databases.


ACTION ITEMS
1. The Board approved a recommendation to reemploy the Associate Executive Director, Assistant Executive Directors, Coordinator of Special Programs and Executive Assistant.

2. The Board approved a recommendation to authorize the Executive Director to appoint member school Athletic Directors to serve as Tellers for IHSA Nominations, Elections and Proposals during the 2019-20 school year.

3. The Board approved programs for International Students at Chicago (Holy Trinity) and Wilmette (Regina Dominican).


APPEALS & ELIGIBILITY RULINGS
1. The Board sustained the Executive Director’s ruling on a student from Ottawa (Marquette). The student was ruled ineligible for non-compliance with IHSA By-law 3.040 and its sub-sections.

2. The Board sustained the Executive Director’s ruling on a student from New Lenox (Providence). The student was ruled ineligible for non-compliance with IHSA By-law 3.040 and its sub-sections.

3. The Board modified the Executive Director’s ruling on a student from Peoria (Richwoods). The student will be eligible at the start of the 2019-20 school term. The student was originally ruled ineligible for non-compliance with IHSA By-law 3.040 and was scheduled to be ineligible through December, 2019.


DISCUSSION ITEMS
At each meeting of the Board of Directors, there are certain items the Board discusses, but upon which no action is taken. The following is a report of those items from the April 16, 2019, agenda:

1. The Board heard a report on webinars hosted by IHSA basketball administrators Kurt Gibson and Beth Sauser, along with an online feedback area for schools to submit information, seeking feedback on a potential change to the IHSA Girls Basketball and Boys Basketball State Final structure.

2. The Board was introduced to new IHSA Information Technology Director Bob Gibson, who began with the IHSA on March 18.

3. IHSA Information Technology Director Bob Gibson provided the Board with information with Microsoft Teams, which has been implemented by the IHSA staff and will likey be integrated into future IHSA meetings and committees.

4. Associate Executive Director Kurt Gibson updated the board on the first IHSA Esports Advisory Committee meeting, which was held on April 9, 2019.

5. The Board heard a report on the upcoming NFHS Legal Meeting to be held in Indianapolis on April 17-18.

6. The Board held a discussion on the Football District Proposal voted into place by IHSA member schools in December. The district system is set to begin in 2021.

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