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Big business: It’s tourney time for Massachusetts high school sports

Craig Douglas
Managing editor/online vertical products and research- Boston Business Journal

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It’s tournament time for local high school sports teams, and that means the handy work of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association will be on prime display. Ever wonder where all those millions in ticket receipts go each year?

It turns out the vast majority of the MIAA’s $5.5 million in annual revenue goes to the officials and related expenses associated with its post-season sports tournaments. Think of all those football, soccer and field hockey playoffs advancing through a dizzying number of divisions and geographic regions in the state.

No doubt it’s a frenzied time for the handful of staffers at the MIAA’s headquarters in Franklin. According to MIAA spokesman Paul Wetzel, the office has four full-time employees and another 10 part-timers. All told there are about 20 people working different aspects of the MIAA’s fall post-season planning.

For their efforts, top officials at the MIAA do pretty well for themselves, especially when compared to the $5,000 or so that goes to the typical high school coach in Massachusetts. According to federal tax filings, the MIAA’s top executive in 2012, Richard Neal, received just over $232,000 in total compensation last year. His number two, William Gaine, collected $167,616.

Neal has since retired, having officially stepped down earlier this year, while Gaine now runs the organization.

Woe be it for me to criticize anyone for negotiating a healthy payday, but these numbers struck me as a bit high given the nature of the business, so to speak. But a closer look at peer organizations (see below) in other states shows that the MIAA is more or less in the middle of the pack — we’ll call it “upper middle of the pack” — when it comes to compensating its interscholastic athletic folks.

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