Syracuse – A more than one year old dispute between Section III Athletics and 43 officiating boards that provide referees to 19 high school sports played in the Watertown, Syracuse and Utica, Rome and Mohawk Valley regions threatens to put several fall sports in jeopardy.
Recently, football referees have indicated that some of them may not be available for games that are slated to begin in three weeks, if a new compensation agreement, if only temporary, is not in place. Whether some sort of “sick out” by football referees is legal (given a statewide agreement that they have with NYSPHSAA), much less ethical, is an entirely different matter that neither side seems to want to broach.
It is important to note that the officials worked without a contract in place for the entire 2017-18 scholastic sports year, as the last contract between Section III and the various officiating boards in each sport expired in June, 2017.
At issue at this point is mileage paid to officials when they drive to contests. In its most recent proposals to each of the 43 officiating boards, Section III has offered to pay officials a flat rate of $100 to officiate a varsity contest, a $15 increase over the previous rate of $85 paid for the same service in the last contract. That contract added a mileage stipend for one of every two officials covering the same contest.
So far, officials have rejected the flat rate of $100 per referee, per varsity game and the two sides are currently engaged in a binding Arbitration process that can not possibly be decided before the fall sports season is set to begin in less than three weeks.
That could change as early as today, as the representatives for the officials reportedly plan to present Section III with sort of a “last ditch” effort to temporarily settle the matter with a proposal of a $103.00 flat fee rate for each official, with no mileage stipend.
So, as athletes, coaches and administrators gear up for the opening day of training camps in all sports that begin in just four days, nobody is really sure if the sports season, especially football, will begin as planned on August 30th.
On a more positive note, ESPN Radio Utica-Rome and The Mid-York Sports will once again broadcast more than 100 high school sports events beginning later this August!
Check back here often as we will be unveiling our 2018 High School Football Broadcast Schedule!!