It’s their hard-earned money, and they can spend it how they see fit.
School districts nationwide have been slashing budgets, and athletics has not been immune to that effect. Bay District Schools, for instance, covers the cost of transportation for area athletic programs, but the majority of expenses for new equipment, renting facilities and additional supplemental payments for assistant coaches are paid for through booster clubs.
County athletic director Kirk Harrell, who also serves as the athletic director at Rutherford, said booster clubs operate independently from the school, but they are required to adhere to a constitution and bylaws that are submitted to each school. The clubs also are required to turn in financial reports annually, he said.
“For the most part they’re policing themselves,” Harrell said. “They’re raising money and deciding what to spend it on. They turn in a proposed budget twice a year and also submit a financial report. The principal looks through that and if he sees there is something inappropriate he can authorize to shut it down or to give them guidance. … Their primary objective is to raise funds for the program. They are not to be involved in any running of the program as far as coaching strategies or who gets to play.”
Depending on the sport, booster clubs can generate tens of thousands of dollars in revenue each year. Harrell said booster clubs’ bylaws often state that major expenses require a board vote, as well as the signatures of the treasurer and another board member on any outgoing expenditures.
“If a booster club wants to pay a coach, that’s up to them,” Harrell said. “We don’t oversee how much they pay. … Booster clubs may pay coaches in the summer for their time working. If they want to give a coach a bonus, there is no limit to that, no guideline. I haven’t had any concerns with that. If the board votes, they raise the money and it’s what they decide.”
Harrell said Rutherford’s booster clubs are their own separate entities “and none of us have combined booster clubs.” He said some sports raise money through the school’s internal account.
“Pretty much at every school every sport has an internal account,” Harrell said. “Some of those funds may be budgeted through the athletic department. A coach might want ticket sales to through that, or a car wash, or a magazine sale can go through that, and they raise money for the internal account.”