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Eliminating Pay-to-Play Fees

During the 2006-07 school year at Plano Independent School District, there was one big goal: ending the school district's pay-to-play fee. Varsity high school athletes were paying $100 a piece, and many felt strongly that no one should have to pay to participate in high school sports. Through a combination of strategies, the school district increased its fundraising by $300,000 per year and ended the fee.

By Chris Feris

In Texas, where huge attendance is virtually guaranteed at football games, one of our most successful fundraisers has been the "Game Day Sponsor" program. For each Friday night home game, we solicit a local business to be the official sponsor. Sponsorship benefits include PA announcements, game promotion opportunities (drawings, coupons, and giveaways), hospitality room access, and tickets.

We charge anywhere from $500 to $1,500 for each game's sponsorship. A rivalry that generates more interest yields a higher fee for the sponsorship, and a game that traditionally doesn't bring in as many fans is priced at the low end. This program generates roughly $15,000 per year.

We also began generating money by offering a six-week summer conditioning program at each high school in our district during the summer, coordinated and directed by our senior high coaching staffs. The camp costs $195 per athlete, and exceptions are made for individuals who have financial hardship. Our coaches make approximately $20 per hour for their work with the program, and we were able to generate about $132,000 from this program this last year.

We've also focused on finding more opportunities to rent out our facilities.We rent to youth football, soccer, and lacrosse programs, as well as to area private schools. Over the last year we raised over $50,000 in rental revenue.

Other successful fundraising efforts have come from advertisements placed around our stadiums. Scoreboards, walls, entrances, and parking lot light poles are just a few of the areas we have utilized with great success. The backs of game tickets have also turned out to be an excellent space for advertising.

When setting a price for advertising, we work with our sponsors to gauge what they are able to pay. Involving sponsors in the process has helped us cultivate a relationship that we believe will encourage their continued participation and ensure success in future projects.

Chris Feris is Assistant Athletic Director for Marketing and Special Events at Plano Independent School District in Plano, Texas. He can be reached at: is brought to you by a recognized and established name in the school athletics arena, MomentumMedia—publisher of Athletic Management, Coaching Management and Training & Conditioning magazines.