Returning spring sports game officials who might not get any work this year because of the coronavirus pandemic will receive a discount on their registration fees next season from the Secondary School Activities Commission.
Officials working spring sports pay an annual registration fee of $44 to the SSAC, and in recent weeks several officials asked if they would receive a refund since all spring sports were canceled by COVID-19. One veteran Kanawha Valley official figures he lost about 30 varsity and junior varsity game assignments this spring, which adds up to roughly $1,500 in lost wages.
Bernie Dolan, the SSAC’s executive director, explained that his organization couldn’t offer refunds for registration fees because it costs the SSAC $17 to insure each of its estimated 500 spring sports officials and another $7 or $14 to provide them either one or two rule books, depending on their sports.
“We’re in a tough spot, they’re in a tough spot,’’ Dolan said. “It’s hard to refund all the money because, in our terms, we’ve already spent the money we said we’d spend on them. They’re not going to give us money back from insurance.
“Sure, [the officials] didn’t have any games this spring, but they still might get summer games. They could get paid for working those.’’
The SSAC’s approved three-week summer practice period, which generally starts the second week of June, has been pushed back this year by many counties, who have the freedom to make their own choice about what weeks to utilize. Seven local counties have selected July 6-25 for their practice period, including Kanawha, Putnam, Jackson, Logan, Wood, Lincoln and Clay. Cabell has opted for July 13-31. Officials could receive work in a variety of sports during that period.
Dolan said that officials who paid their spring sports fees this year and return to work again next spring will receive an automatic discount because the National Federation of State High School Associations has already said there will be no rules changes for spring 2021 sports, meaning there will be no new rule books to purchase.
Dolan said the SSAC will come up with a round number for its 2021 discounts, but also pointed out that new officials must pay the full registration rate next year because they will need rule books.